Creative Breaks - Short Breaks Fund
A story by Lanarkshire Carers Centre
We provided grants directly to carers who live in North and South Lanarkshire to plan and pay for a break of their choice.
What Creative Breaks - Short Breaks Fund did
Lanarkshire Carers Centre has received Creative Breaks Time to Live funding for five years. We continue to administer this fund and are learning each year. We have updated and further developed our guidance, criteria, application and panel processes throughout this time.
An application form is completed by the carer and this can be with support from Lanarkshire Carers Centre, Social Work staff, Health staff and /or staff from other third sector organisations. The application form requires to be counter-signed by a member of staff from Lanarkshire Carers Centre as well as a supporting statement included as to the care that is provided by the carer. Within this round of funding it was also decided that an Adult Carer Support Plan/Carers Journey is completed with each applicant. This ensures that carers are fully supported in all aspects of their caring role.
The panel dates are set at the end of the year and run from January to October. Two groups of panel members are in place in order to manage the time commitment for everyone involved. Panel members attend bi-monthly and whole panel review meetings take place at least once per year.
Applicants will normally be informed of the decision within seven days of the panel meeting. Arrangements are then put in place for each successful applicant to sign an Award Agreement. Once this has been returned payment is made to the carer.
Lanarkshire Carers Centre promotes Creative Breaks Time to Live Fund through their website, and through our social media platforms. There are also leaflets which promote "Services We Offer" and "Short Breaks Carers Information Service" which both detail information about short breaks.
Outcomes from the funding are included in our performance monitoring to partners, South Lanarkshire Carer Strategy Group and North Lanarkshire Carer Strategy Implementation Group. It is also discussed at the SBCIS Advisory Group and Carers Consultative Group. All staff have a role of raising awareness of centre services, including short breaks and grant funding, and this is carried out by staff delivering presentations and attending events.
A number of these carers were supported to complete the application form by health professionals, including the Community Mental Health teams. As a result our relationship with these professionals has been strengthened and we have been able to reach other carers with information about our services.
22% of these carers had a break from their caring role that was not an overnight stay. These consisted of days out with family, gym memberships, driving lessons, knitting materials, reading material and banjo lessons.
The other 78% used the funding to have overnight stays, the length of time ranging from one night to a week. Some attended the break alone, some with family members and others with the cared for.
Mrs C provides a high level of care for her brother who has a diagnosis of bi-polar, including prompting with personal care, meals, household chores, shopping. The cared for, can at times be difficult to deal with and will not accept any professional input in relation to his care. Mrs C has her own health issues, which adds to the difficulties she experiences.
Until recently Mrs C had a dual caring role as she also cared for her friend who had terminal cancer. When her friend passed away she left her a banjo. Through the fund Mrs C was supported her to take lessons. Mrs C loves music and can play a number of other instruments.
“I can play other instruments, but banjo is quite a unique instrument and I want to be very proficient whilst playing it in memory of my friend”.
85% of Black Minority Ethnic Carers used the funding for overnights stays and holidays, quite a few to visit family. Some attended the break alone, some with family members and others with the person they cared for. 15% of Black Minority Ethnic Carers used the funding for classes/lessons.
Mrs M cares for her three adult sons and has done so for 25 years. The oldest of the three is 25 years old and has Down’s Syndrome and her 17 year old twin sons have Cerebral Palsy and both are wheelchair users. Mrs M has carried out this care along with her husband until his sudden and recent cancer diagnosis, her husband is no longer able to provide care support for their children and due to his condition deteriorating quickly Mrs M now also cares for him.
Mrs M has very little time away from her caring role and provides all aspects of daily care for her husband and adult sons. They have no family members nearby and Mrs M relies on the help and support of a friend in her caring role. Although Mrs M’s caring role has been nonstop for years, it is her husband’s poor health that is proving the hardest to deal with. Mrs M has not only lost his support, but is also having to deal with his poor health and uncertain future.
Mrs M has had to give up her employment due to her caring role and this has been a big blow for her as this was what she enjoyed doing most. Since then Mrs M has found that the increase in her responsibilities has left her feeling physically and emotionally exhausted.
Our award enabled Mrs M to have a holiday visiting family members, while her adult daughter looked after her siblings. This time away will allow Mrs M and her husband to spend quality time relaxing with their family and friends, knowing their sons are being cared for. This is important for Mrs M and her husband as they are unsure what the future will be in relation to his health and it is important to them to spend time with family and friends while they can.
“I felt I needed a break from all we are going through. I feltl we needed to get away to gather our strength and spirits”.
This has proved to be beneficial and made the transition easier for young adult carers from services that supported them previously. The project has established close links with the Young Carers Services in North and South Lanarkshire and further developed positive working relationships with them.
A number of outings have been organised for this group including a visit to the Scottish Parliament, BBC Studios and Reeltime Music where the Young Adult Carers came together over a period of time and recorded some music. The feedback has been that this type of peer support is extremely beneficial and some of the group members have formed friendships outwith the group.
2 of the Young Carers went on a hotel break, one with the cared for and the other with friends. 2 attended a residential break. 2 used the funding to purchase a cinema pass for the year. 1 used the funding to purchase a year membership to a gym.
Mr D has a dual caring role for his grandparents. He has provided this for a considerable length of time. Although he has a close relationship with his grandparents and wishes to care for them he can find this stressful at times. Both grandparents have poor mobility and his grandmother has dementia.
Mr D provides daily support including preparing meals, household tasks, shopping and attending appointments with them. Mr D also provides a high level of emotional support and re-assurance to his grandmother due to her dementia and anxiety. The level of responsibility involved in this caring role has a serious impact on Mr D’s lifestyle, he can often feel trapped and misses out on opportunities and fun that people of his age should be experiencing.
Mr D provides an example of this positive working relationship with the Young Carers Service. A residential weekend was available for a number of Young Adult Carers involved in the Young Carer Forum. This individual successfully applied to Lanarkshire Carers Centre Creative Break Fund to pay for his place on this residential. He took part in group outdoor activities and benefited from spending time with other young people with similar/shared experience. Replacement care arrangements were put in place for his grandparents.
Mr D states that keeping in touch with other Young Carers is the best way to combat the loneliness and stress he can experience due to his caring role. Having the chance to relax, and know that his grandparents are safe for a few days is a great relief and the opportunity to re-energised.
“Getting away always makes me feel more in control when I return and I feel more confident about what the future holds”.
What Lanarkshire Carers Centre has learnedThe success of the Creative Break Fund has undoubtedly produced evidence in support of the continuation of other Lanarkshire Carers Centre time limited projects. In particular, the Short Break Carers Information Service received continuation funding as a result of the outcomes achieved and the important role they have. This role includes the promotion, development, administration and evaluation of our Creative Breaks Fund.
Our Respitality Project has also been developed on the foundation of the work established by this service, in recognition of the importance of short breaks for carers and the positive outcomes this achieves for carers. There has been areas of joint development work which mutually compliments each project and further enhances the choices available to carers in Lanarkshire.
All new carers to Lanarkshire Carers Centre are invited to attend a Steps of Caring Course, this runs once a week for three weeks. The courses are free, offered locally and provide an introductory guide to accessing help and ongoing support. The training programme outcomes include increasing confidence and skills, maintaining health and well being and enabling carers to continue with their caring role. The importance of Short Breaks including the Creative Break Fund and how to apply is an integral part of this ongoing programme.
The benefit of successfully securing Creative Breaks Time to Live funding has been that Lanarkshire Carers Centre also secured match funding for the Mini Break Fund. Carers Trust also asked us to participate in the devolved pilot for Carers Trust Funding. The good practice and outcomes achieved through the Creative Break Fund process provide the evidence and structure to manage this. The partnership involvement in the panel process has increased awareness and recognition of the needs of carers, the important contribution they make and the value of short breaks. Lanarkshire Carers Centre is recognised as the lead partner in this work locally.
Following the allocation of additional top up funding of £5,750 from Shared Care Scotland we had the capacity to develop an opportunity for small grant awards and introduced the Mini Breaks Fund. Carers can apply for up to £50 towards the cost of a short break. An example of this was used on two occasions to enhance a Respitality break. A carer and companion received a two night stay of bed and breakfast through our Respitality Project and the Mini Break Fund award enabled the carer to purchase a meal. This meal was purchased at the hotel where the break was offered which further enhanced the break.
Another applicant also purchased a meal through the Mini Break Fund for their family who received a family pass to one of the local swim and play venues. The meal (lunch) was purchased at the venue again to further enhance the break. This would not have been possible without the funding as both families are on low income.
This small pot of mini break funding was match funded by North Lanarkshire Community Capacity Building and Carer Support Programme and South Lanarkshire Integrated Care Fund. The result has been that many more carers across Lanarkshire have benefited from what was originally a small pot (£5,750). The match funding resulted in a total of £10,665 being available for mini breaks.
Carers Trust offered Lanarkshire Carers Centre the opportunity to participate in a devolved pilot of their Carers Trust Funds. We were allocated £5,000 locally for Carers Essentials, Carers Take Time Out and Carers Skills (funding for education). We were the only carers centre in Scotland to participate in this pilot. This was in recognition of the high quality and professionalism of applications supported by our staff to these funds.This good practice has been developed as part of our work over many years with Creative Breaks and it was only because of the panel and administration process we had in place that we were able to participate in this devolved pilot.
Many carers directly benefited from this devolved process which again brought additional funds directly for carers. This pilot has now come to an end and the final report to Carers Trust has been submitted.
Mini Break Fund, The Mini Break Fund of the Creative Breaks Time to Live Fund benefited a further 155 carers in Lanarkshire to have a short break from their caring role. 112 carers had the break on their own whilst 43 took the break with the person they cared for. Match funding was awarded which meant the total fund for the mini breaks was £10,665.
The short breaks that were taken by carers included, 59 carers having a meal, 23 carers going on an overnight stay, 51 carers participating in day/evening activities and these included a trip to the bingo, shopping trips in Glasgow and Edinburgh, attending a choir, going to the cinema and a visit to the Edinburgh Tattoo. 14 carers received holistic therapies, 2 carers put the funding towards a Respitality break, 6 carers used the funding for other sources and these were gym clothes, the Kilt Walk, a hair-do, an online course, purchasing a kindle and paying for housework.
Creative Breaks funding is extremely resource intensive for Lanarkshire Carers Centre and we absorb this into our overall work in order to maximise the amount of funding available to issue in direct grants for carers. This is particularly true for the mini break fund which requires a lot of administration.