A story by Fife Voluntary Action
We provided grants directly to carers living in Fife.
What Creative Breaks did
Following on from the last round of Time to Live funding, our project continues to distribute grants to carers in Fife. With the support of our partners on our panel, Fife Carers Centre, Fife Young Carers, Crossroads and an individual Carer we continue to promote the fund via our leaflet, e bulletins, website and partners' publicity material,s and a press release also ensured that we generated some articles in the local press for the fund broadening the reach of our project. This year we have improved our connection within Fife's Health and Social Care partnership, raising awareness of the fund through conversations with local social work teams and community planning teams.
Our application form and guidance is available online, and for those who need it our staff and partners are happy and pleased to offer further guidance in completing the form. The members of the panel meet monthly to discuss their individual assessment and evaluation of each application. Thereafter the panel agree a course of action that the administrator executes in order to ensure the "break" is successful. Each year we review how our team processes the awards and notifies all the candidates of the outcome.
We constantly review our paperwork and consider changes that will improve our process. This year we have improved and upgraded our administration processes by making better use of technology which has resulted in a much leaner procedure for dealing with back office tasks.
She applied for funding to enable her and her husband to visit friends and family in The Cotswolds. The break was a huge success and she reports that it was "an amazing week of sheer happiness and quality time with her husband" which included walking the dogs on the Chilterns and dining and chatting with friends in the evening secure in the knowledge that her husband was settled in bed nearby.
She reported feeling invigorated and refreshed and able to take on any new challenges that lie ahead. Her life is still full with work, academia and caring but she is able to manage as a result of the great break that she was able to enjoy for herself and with her husband. She completes her degree in May next year and "can't put in to words" how much the break helped her to get to this point.
Now in possession of a laptop, purchased with his grant, and with the support of his grandson he is developing his IT skills and confidence with the considerable help of the “spell check” feature. He says he is “getting there” with regards to managing his online benefits and household requirements and as a result is more confident in the future and his ability to manage.
Both he and his wife are now also regularly Skyping their granddaughter, who lives in Inverness, and encouraging her IT skills development too! He believes that for both him and his wife the camera enabled face to face conversations are really valuable and important to them all. His Facebook adventures have been also been varied and interesting. After joining a conversation about developments at Whiteman’s Brae Hospital, the site on which it stands being where he was once employed as a gardener, he was recognised by someone whom he hasn’t seen or heard from in over 30 years!
Almost a year later she reports feeling great, both physically and mentally. She makes it to the gym at least 2/3 times a week, has lost 12 lbs. (and put on 2lbs!) herself and this caused great stress which contributed to a deterioration in her own health and has even started doing a Pilates class recently. She also reports that she is sleeping much better which she presumes is due to reducing her stress levels and really enjoys what she calls her “me time” and is clear that she will continue with this into the coming years.
What Fife Voluntary Action has learnedOur project has been running successfully for 5+ years now. Our processes are now well established but we always listen to feedback and regularly review our paperwork and processes. Having welcomed a new member of the team on board this year, she was able to improve our back office admin procedures considerably resulting in a more streamlined procedure.
We repeated last year’s successful press release mid-year which supports the expanding reach of our project. This generated local press articles that focus on the importance of Carers taking a break and the benefits that result, helping raise awareness of the importance of supporting carers in their role and the role our project can have in achieving that.
As a result our feedback to Shared Care Scotland around the funding limitation of fixing the maximum at £300 it was agreed that the sum of £400 would be a more realistic figure with some discretion by the panel to increase that where appropriate. This proved to be more fitting for all who applied, encouraging a good balance of applicants who were looking for support in their caring role.
All partners on the panel are aware of and feeling the impact of the Carers Act with new strands of activity and conversations starting to take place within and with the Health and Social Care Partnership. However there have, as yet, been no significant changes worth reporting.