Creative Breaks - Aberdeen City
A story by Voluntary Service Aberdeen
We provided grants directly to carers who live in Aberdeen City, to plan and pay for a short break of their choice.
What Creative Breaks - Aberdeen City did
Application forms and guidance for completing them are available on our website. All applications are supported by our Carer Advisors who also provide advice and guidance to Carers in terms of completing the application form, providing any supporting information and discussing options/suggestions for the type of break which would benefit the Carer most. All applications are processed within 28 days.
We have a panel who meet monthly to discuss the applications. The panel members include colleagues from Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership, from the Self Directed Support Team and Adult Mental Health Team, a resource worker from Alzheimer Scotland and the manager of the Carers Resource Service. A member of the local Cash in Your Pocket Team was also a member but due to changes within this service locally, they are no longer able to attend.
Applications are sent to panel members in advance of the meeting and each application is discussed at the meeting. Where we require further information or where we have concerns about formal support, we will make enquiries with the Care Management Team or suggest to applicants that they request a Carers Statutory Assessment or for example a Benefits check. Decisions are made giving consideration to sustainability and to ensure that the short break is not a replacement for ongoing support which should be provided by the local authority. Decisions are made on the day and cheques sent out within 2 working days.
We advertise the fund through our website, through our quarterly newsletter and at any Carer Awareness raising events, Carer's Training or Support Groups. We also advertise regularly in the Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations weekly bulletin which is circulated to all third sector organisations across Aberdeen City. We also promote the fund through GP practices and Health Centre's and via our colleagues at the Health Points in Aberdeen.
Judith chose to use her grant to meet the cost of gym membership. She describes having an "escape" has been great and has improved her life physically.
She said " It's made me feel like I have a purpose outwith caring and as a result I enjoy caring more as I have something for myself. I had nothing before but this means I can plan stuff and if it doesn't work, there is always the next day. Going to the Gym is much better than a trip out. It means I have 365 days of escape if I need it. Exercise classes let me see others. I can see a difference physically which is great, I am less tired and have plenty of love to give."
"This is something my wife and I enjoyed doing together before she had her stroke and the difference a theatre trip makes to her is lovely to see. Her mood brightens and she seems physically better too and not so frustrated. It's lovely to be able to do something 'normal' as a husband and wife. Seeing her happy makes me feel better too"
What Voluntary Service Aberdeen has learnedOne challenge has been in supporting carers and staff to "think out the box" about how to use the short break. One of the applications was for pampering sessions for Carers. This involved buying pampering sessions offered by North East College School of Health and Beauty and then being able to provide vouchers to Carers at a time when we felt they needed a boost. the Carer Advisors each have a supply of vouchers which they can give to Carer's as a "wee treat". We believe this has been successful and are thinking of other opportunities such as meal vouchers.
Another challenge has been the reluctance amongst some Carer's to approach Care Management for services in their own right and to look at the possibilities that SDS options present for short breaks. Despite publicising the fund widely, we need to get better at promoting the grants that are available along with Carer stories about the type of breaks chosen and the benefit of the breaks. The feedback from Carers who have received funding clearly demonstrate the benefit of the short break both for Carer's and for those they care for.