Down's Syndrome Scotland Creative Breaks Fund
A story by Down's Syndrome Scotland
We provided grants directly to carers who care for an adult who has Down’s syndrome who lives with them.
What Down's Syndrome Scotland Creative Breaks Fund did
Carers were asked to complete an application form which asked for details of their caring role and any support they have, also details of their health and that of the individual they care for. Applicants were also asked to complete a questionnaire asking them to evaluate the impact of their caring role on their well-being, their health, their work/education and their social life. It was asked what they would like to get out of a break.
The application form asked for details of the break they are applying for and in cases where the carer is not known to Down's Syndrome Scotland we asked for a referee whom the applicant knew in a professional capacity. Our decision -making grants panel consisted of our 3 individuals - the Family Support Service Manager, A grand-parent member of our charity and a Chief executive from another charity. The panel met monthly to consider applications and was organised by an administrator.
The Fund was launched at our Annual Conference in November 2013. The availability of the Fund was highlighted in our e-bulletin and our website as well as being publicised in social media i.e. Facebook and Twitter. DSS staff attended Shared Care Scotland workshops and shared our application packs with carers networks and other charities. Application packs were available for download from our website or by calling our National Office. Our team of Family Support Service Officers who operate across all 32 local authority areas of Scotland carried stocks of the application packs and passed these out to eligible families they came in contact with.
"The break allowed us to relax and enjoy time with C. to run on the beach and go for long walks. She particularly enjoys walking our dog as she feels that she is in charge, not being the one looked after for a change. It gave us time to focus on all the good things in our lives, such as C, laughing and enjoying ourselves." The most memorable part of the short break was celebrating on the Saturday evening with dinner out for the 25th Anniversary of C's successful heart surgery".
A Mum who cares for her Son who has Down's syndrome and also has two teenagers with additional needs was able to take a trip to Spain with her Son with the help of the contribution from The Creative Breaks Fund. Mum has a range of health needs and is badly affected by arthritis. " We cannot thank everyone enough for awarding us the grant which helped us to go on what can only be described as a fantastic holiday and we have came home feeling bright, relaxed and in a better frame of mind."
Another Mum used her Creative Breaks grant to travel to Southampton with her Daughter who competed in the Down's syndrome European Open Swimming Championships. " It helps our family to see other families in the same position as ourselves and share experiences with them and learn how to cope with issues they have already dealt with. The most memorable part was seeing all the swimmers achieve their best and how they all support each other as a team and encourage each other to do their best".
Mum had purchased a tricycle for her Son as she was struggling to get him to exercise. With her grant from The Creative Breaks Fund she purchased a bicycle for herself. This has allowed her to enjoy exercising both alone and with her Son and has also had health advantages for him and is proving beneficial to his weight. Mum said " I feel more positive and upbeat. I now also feel that people understand the stresses that caring can bring and that my role is valued. the fund shows carers their stresses is acknowledged".
Mum of a 23 year old with Down's syndrome was able to spend a day with her Daughter having beauty treatments. " I still feel the benefit of my beauty break. I had my hair, nails, eyebrows, lunch, massage and dinner, sharing it all with my Daughter. It was wonderful and I'm still smiling. It was an amazing quality day that will last forever. Thank you more than Thank You can say."
A Mum who was invited to attend a Thanks and Recognition reception and a National Scout/Guide Service in Westminster Abbey used her CB grant to pay for travel and accommodation in London." doing something just for myself is uplifting and puts me in a positive frame of mind. It re-affirmed me as a valued individual."
As part of building trust and a relationship with mum our Family Support Officer helped her to apply for a short break. Since then the Family Support Officer has been involved in many aspects of the family's life, i.e., helping them to secure a care of 2 hours a week, putting the young man with DS in contact with Enable who are currently helping him to get a job as well as helping support mum with various aspects of her life. Our support for the family is ongoing.
The family kept us up to date with the young man's recovery progress and we approved a change of use for the award. The family were able to spend a relaxing holiday together in Cumbria with trips to the Lake District. "It was great just to relax or go for a swim in the outdoor pool, have a game of 10 pin bowling or watch a cabaret in the evenings. We are very grateful to have been beneficiaries of this much needed initiative".
What Down's Syndrome Scotland has learnedAs in the previous year the Fund continued to be a great addition to the range of services our family Support Service Officers (FSSOs) can access to help carers. It gives carers a reason to contact us. We are then able to discuss whether our FSSOs would be able to provide them with any support or advice. the support of our FSS was required in some cases to help plan their break.
The Fund has given carers who would not usually ask for help a reason to contact our organisation. In 15 cases carers who have not previously been in touch with Down's Syndrome Scotland have been contacted by our FSS as a result of referrals by our grants panel.
Due to the difficulties faced by the carers in their day to day lives they are often unable to take the original break planned in their application form and the panel considered an alternative break or postponement of the original one. This can often lead to a considerable amount of Down's Syndrome Scotland's time spent on one carer's application but ultimately when the break is taken it is even more necessary and appreciated by the carer.