Day Opportunities for Older People 65+Respite Support for Carers
A story by Community Central Hall
Community Central Hall delivered an on-going activity programme for vulnerable Cared-for Older People 65+ during this time their Carer(s) received much-needed time to themselves.
This helping both target groups re-integrate back into the community to tackle their isolation/loneliness, regain their independence, and experiences.
What Day Opportunities for Older People 65+Respite Support for Carers did
Community Central Halls delivered 6 week-long activity blocks for vulnerable Older People 70+ during which Carers received much-needed, regular respite breaks of their choice, providing opportunities for both groups to reintegrate back into the community, regain their independence, and experience improved resilience, wellbeing, and quality of life.
Each activity block provided healthy lunches and a range of activities that met the interests/support needs of 8-10 Older People aged 70-89 with disabilities/Additional Support Needs including early on-set dementia, stroke, visual/hearing impairment, long-term diseases impacting mobility/ breathing, wheelchair-users, etc.
In addition to providing activities including ice-breakers, reminiscence/life-story work, arts/crafts, bingo, music/dancing, etc., we also ran a series of outings including afternoon tea, Callendar, a museum, Livingston Shopping Centre, etc. Older People received Winter Hampers to see them through the isolated/difficult winter as well as Christmas gifts to brighten their spirits/make happy holiday memories.
We also ran 2 x ‘themed’ activity blocks. Activities provided in the ‘Countdown to Christmas’ including making Christmas cards/calendars, jewellery making, reminiscing, afternoon tea, and a Christmas bingo/quiz. Our pre-Easter ‘Spring Fling’ offered a reminiscence quiz, pamper day with massage and nails, a cookery activity, and 2 x outings incl. to the cinema to see a vintage film.
We held a special Christmas Lunch and Nativity Play for combined 70 x Older People and their Carers/partners as well as a Summer Strawberry Tea for 48 x Older People and their Carers/partners: providing opportunities for them to simply enjoy one another away from the stress/tension at home to improve Carer/Cared-for relationships.
We also ran a series of intergenerational activities enabling Older People to build new connections, share experiences, and feel more socially included incl., practical cookery sessions via which Older People helped at-risk Young People gain budget cookery skills and a lunch/cinema trip to see Paddington Bear 2 with 20 x nursery-aged children.
What Community Central Hall has learned
Whilst we initially sought to run 2 x 20 week-long activity blocks for 20 x Older People and 20 x Carers per block (40 total), this was quickly amended after all interested Carers had registered for the programme as initial assessments helped us better understand their specific needs and availability, the disabilities/additional support needs of the Older People to be supported, and the Carers’ concerns of ‘missing out’ on support if the set activity session times didn’t work for them in the long-term.
In order to meet these needs, we instead delivered an on-going programme of 6 week-long activity blocks, with each block supporting 8-10 Cared-for Older People. The time of day/days of week activities were delivered on changed in each block based on majority vote by those supported, ensuring that the activities fit into the Carers’ schedules to give them more control and choice.
This change worked very well, with Carers/Older people able to engage in either a single activity block or multiple dependent on their needs, with many attending each block. This change also enabled us to better support the Older people attending activities as they were typically much older and with more extensive disabilities/Additional Support Needs than we initially expected. It also enabled us to provide 2 x ‘themed’ activity blocks which were very popular, being our ‘Countdown to Christmas’ and ‘Spring Fling.’
Our flexibility has been a key success as it’s enabled us to continually amend service content/delivery to best meet the needs/interests of the Carers and Older People supported by the programme. For example, positive feedback received from those attending our Christmas Lunch which brought both Carers and those they care for together during what can be a lonely/difficult time of year to break bread and enjoy a Nativity Play led by nursery-aged children resulted in us delivering additional inter-generational activities which were successful both in terms of popularity and positive outcomes.
The inter-generational activities subsequently run promoted positive community interactions by enabling Older People to develop new connections and friendships with other socially-excluded community groups including at-risk Young People. Feedback from those supported also led us to provide additional support outwith the set activity programmes to ensure that all Carers/Older People received the tailored support they need to maximise the benefits evidenced.
We found that our ability to collect/transport Older People from their homes to our hall and back greatly increased accessibility and attracted additional Carers, this also provided Carers more time to themselves. Our provision of a healthy meal at each activity session was also a key asset as it promoted a real sense of community and enabled Older People to chat, share memories/experiences, and build stronger bonds with one another in a supportive environment whilst also supporting their overall diet and health.
We did experience a challenge in attracting Carers from BME groups even though our initial assessments showed that interest from these groups was strong. Upon further discussion, it was advised that many only wanted to attend 1 of 2 weeks of activities rather than the set activity blocks. As we have further amended service provision to include more outings in the upcoming year rather than set activity blocks, we hope to attract more Carers/Older People from these groups moving forward.
How Community Central Hall has benefitted from the funding
As a result of receiving Creative Breaks Funding, Community Central Halls was able to roll up a new pilot programme which not only made a significant difference to the lives of the 45 x Older People and 49 x Carers directly supported. This also helped Community Central Halls further assess the community’s need for support and, through gathering feedback from both direct beneficiaries and others in the wider community, further develop our support for these vulnerable target groups. We look forward to running the new ‘Live Your Life’ activity programme developed throughout the next year.
Attendees will feel less isolated and the new opportunities for inclusion/participation will positively impact their health/wellbeing. Carers will report improved ability to manage/enjoy the changing relationship with those they care for and improved family relationships due to relieving stress.
45 x Cared-for Older People engaged in a series of 6 week-long activity blocks throughout the year whilst their 49 x Carers much-needed, regular respite breaks and time to focus on their own wellbeing, providing opportunities for both groups to reintegrate back into the community, regain their independence, and experience improved resilience, wellbeing, and quality of life. Older People built new connections within other vulnerable community groups as well as strong friendships with their peers via sharing positive experiences. Carers had total control over how they spent their respite breaks which feedback proves was a key success. We also offered opportunities for Carers and Cared-for Older People to enjoy each other’s company away from the stress/tension at home, improving family relationships. Both Carers and the Older People supported reported feeling less lonely and happier
OP is 84 years old and, prior to engaging in our programme, had not left her home for anything other than hospital appointments in 4 years due to her significant mobility issues which had given her anxiety. Although she was very shy at first, OP quickly started to join into the range of activities and made fast friends which had a positive impact on OP's overall attitude as she appeared more confident and happier and less lonely. She particularly loved the outings we provided as part of the activity programme as it enabled her to access new exciting places that are otherwise inaccessible. OP's daughter/Carer advised that she feels the activities have really transformed her mother and that she’s much happier at home. Having noticed that her daughter/Carer struggled to push her mother around in her standard wheelchair, we worked with her to secure an electric wheelchair for OP and this small change, which provided OP with the means to move around independently, had a significant impact on both OP and her Carer’s lives by improving OP's independence and reducing her daughter/Carer’s work load. We also arranged for a home safety check to be carried out in their home after which the council carried out home adaptions which again have had a positive impact on their lives by making it easier for OP's Carer to support her. As a result of receiving regular respite breaks as well as support to facilitate her caring responsibilities at home, OP's daughter reported feeling less stressed and frustrated. OP and her daughter/Carer were supported to attend/take part in our Summer Strawberry Tea event at which they happily chatted with and developed new connections/friendships with other Carers/Cared-for Older People undergoing similar challenges with which they can share their experiences and positive peer support. We also observed changes in their own relationship, with OP and her Carer seeming more relaxed and happier in each other’s company. OP said “I really enjoy being in the company of others, it’s a big change from being stuck at home. I feel so much better now.” Other quotes from Older People were, “It has been so wonderful coming here and making new friends.” “I didn’t know I was artistic until this. Now I love doing crafts!” “Thank you for this opportunity. I don’t feel so lonely anymore.”
40 Carers will have taken the opportunity to enjoy individual ME time to focus on their own wellbeing, visit with friends/family, take up a hobby.
45 x Cared-for Older People engaged in a series of 6 week-long activity blocks throughout the year which enabled their 49 x Carers to access much-needed, regular respite breaks and time to focus on their own wellbeing, providing opportunities for both groups to reintegrate back into the community, regain their independence, and experience improved resilience, wellbeing, and quality of life. Carers had total control over how they spent their respite breaks which feedback proves was a key success. We also offered opportunities for Carers and Cared-for Older People to enjoy each other’s company away from the stress/tension at home, improving family relationships. Both Carers and the Older People supported reported feeling less lonely and happier.
AB is 79, is cared for by her daughter, and has a number of long-term health conditions that have impacted her quality of life and resulted in her developing depression. As a result of spending all of her time caring for her mother, AB's daughter has ignored her own significant health problems which have greatly impacted her on-going wellbeing and quality of life. The activity programme we provided for Older People gave AB's daughter/Carer regular respite breaks during which she could focus on her own health and wellbeing, enabling her to attend several doctor’s appointments to get her health problems under control as well as meet up with friends that she hasn’t seen for a long time. Throughout the period we undertook regular assessments during which AB's daughter/Carer reported feeling far less anxious about her health and much less stressed overall which has improved her own wellbeing as well as her relationship with her mother. She also advised that she felt ‘restored’ and more capable now to continue her caring responsibilities.
40 Carers will report having improved ability to manage/enjoy the changing relationship with the person they care for and overall improved family relationships as a result of having received regular breaks that have relieved the stress/tension of caring for a loved one.
45 x Cared-for Older People engaged in a series of 6 week-long activity blocks throughout the year which enabled their 49 x Carers to access much-needed, regular respite breaks and time to focus on their own wellbeing, providing opportunities for both groups to reintegrate back into the community, regain their independence, and experience improved resilience, wellbeing, and quality of life. As part of the on-going activity programme, we provided a series of outings which enabled Carers to have longer respite breaks. Carers had total control over how they spent their regular respite breaks which feedback proves was a key success. We also offered opportunities for Carers and Cared-for Older People to enjoy each other’s company away from the stress/tension at home, improving family relationships.
Carer A cares for his wife who has early on-set dementia. At the initial assessment, it was clear that he felt very isolated as he no longer had the time to meet up with friends and as their children no longer live in the country and thus cannot help out at home. Although he was initially a bit reluctant to leave his wife after being with her 24/7, he realised that the opportunity would not only give him much-needed respite, but also enable his wife to be more socially-included. Which he hoped would make her happier as she had been very depressed at her diagnosis and had closed herself off to everyone. As a result of receiving regular respite breaks, Carer A was able to reconnect with his old friends with whom he regularly met up with to go walking, to the bowling green, and/or to the pub and talked to about his situation, with his friends offering positive listening ear support. Over time Carer A reported feeling less isolated and, as a result, had a better attitude and hope for the future. He also advised that the “Me time” he received helped reduce some of the bitterness and frustration he felt at his situation and that he now felt much more confident to continue coping with/carrying out his caring responsibilities. He has already expressed interest in the upcoming ‘Live Your Life’ programme as his wife loved the outings provided over the past year and as he is really keen to continue receiving the respite which he feels as ‘given him back his life.’