East Ren Escapades
A story by The Richmond Fellowship Scotland, East Renfrewshire Dementia Service
Our project was to enable carers of those living with Dementia to enjoy a series of organised, fun events throughout the year whilst our staff team hosted simultaneous events for their loved ones too.
What East Ren Escapades did
We hosted a series of quarterly events for both carers of those living with dementia and their loved ones. The events throughout the year included an afternoon tea for carers to get together at a local hotel in East Renfrewshire in February 2023, whilst those that they cared for enjoyed a simultaneous afternoon of music and dance complete with an Elvis impersonator performing his biggest hits and providing some really happy memories.
A bus trip to the Falkirk Wheel thereafter took place in May 2023, where carers/cared for got the chance to get together again over a tasty lunch before experiencing the Falkirk Wheel in action and going on a memorable short sail along the Forth and Clyde Canal.
In August 2023, we hosted an afternoon of beauty therapy treatments for carers. This was a relaxing day of pampering whilst their loved ones enjoyed a musical cabaret afternoon, complete with buffet, and followed by the opportunity to take part in some fun games at the same venue.
Our final event in September 2023 saw everyone take to the waterways on a canal boat trip, this time with the Seagull Trust, in Kirkintilloch. The day and programme was completed with a delicious chip-shop tea.
To be as inclusive as possible, carers/cared for took part in our Creative Breaks activities. We issued open invitations to carers and their loved ones who were supported by our service. We were also mindful of individual circumstances at different times over the 12-month period and remained sensitive of when the pressures were perhaps building for carers due to the changing and progressive nature of dementia itself.
What The Richmond Fellowship Scotland, East Renfrewshire Dementia Service has learned
Project Planning: The importance in planning and speaking to carers early about our programme has proved to be really successful. We now have a designated member of staff who ensures that the planning of our Creative Breaks programme starts well in advance of the application deadline, allowing carers to get their views, opinions and ideas across in good time.
Targeting most in need of support: Through constant contact with carers/cared for throughout the year, our staff team are very sensitive to situations which can arise for carers within their caring role. This enables us to act to ensure that those carers who may be experiencing more stressful situations at any given time can be responded to quickly and arrangements put in place to provide additional supports.
Reaching out to and engaging with new carers: Within our Creative Breaks programme for 2022/23, we welcomed a number of new carers and their families along. Our support team kept carers/cared for fully up-to-date with everything that was coming up in our programme, and our service newsletter also includes Creative Breaks updates too, as well as useful information on other aspects of our service delivery.
Developing new short break activities: As a service, we are always on the look out for new short break activities for carers/cared for. Through the feedback that we have received throughout the duration of the Creative Breaks programme, we have identified a number of real successes and will be looking to implement these within the day-to-day delivery of our support services as an organisation moving forward.
Following the success of our beauty therapy and pampering day event, for example, we will be looking to explore further wellbeing events and activities. This ties in also with the importance of physical activity within our supports too, and we have recently acquired equipment to enable us to explore this further too.
How The Richmond Fellowship Scotland, East Renfrewshire Dementia Service has benefitted from the funding
Creative Breaks funding has enabled our organisation to think about incorporating further ideas specifically put forward by carers into place within our regular support services. For example, our beauty therapy and pampering day was so well received, we are keen to explore further options in the general areas of wellbeing and fitness. As well as further relaxation sessions, we are also looking at mindfulness sessions, as well as other options to further incorporate physical activity into our supports and groupwork. Carers/cared for have, again, given us so many great ideas for activities and events moving forward, and this has led to us looking to acquire funding from other sources to set up another groupwork opportunity within the East Renfrewshire local authority area.
Success would ideally see friendships forming. This would hopefully see carers continuing to meet up in enjoyable, social settings, effectively providing opportunities to provide informal peer support to one another and providing those vital opportunities to step away from their caring role.
Carers taking part in our programme said that they had thoroughly enjoyed the events that had taken place and that they had provided the much needed, regular welcome breaks from their day-to-day caring roles that we had hoped to achieve. The carers said that the afternoon tea was a great idea to get people together, chatting and laughing in lovely, relaxed surroundings. Feedback on our beauty therapy and pampering day was fabulous too. Our beautician was able to carry out a number of treatments on the day, specifically aimed at allowing the carers to really relax and unwind. Our final events of the programme our away-day trips proved to be real winners too, the feedback being so positive that we as a service are looking to revisit these venues within our regular future day-to-day supports, moving forward. All of this, taken as a whole, seems to completely support that the proposed outcome of ‘having more opportunities to enjoy a life out with their caring role’ has been achieved.
TRFS East Renfrewshire Dementia Service has been supporting Patricia and her husband Alan for a number of years following Alan's diagnosis of dementia. After speaking with their keyworker about our Creative Breaks programme, Patricia said that they were absolutely delighted to take part and that the events had absolutely helped her to step away from her caring role and afforded opportunities to attend enjoyable events and activities. Speaking about our 2022/2023 programme afterwards, Patricia said that there had been so many great moments, which both she and Alan had thoroughly enjoyed. She added: "I've loved everything that I've gone along to with The Richmond Fellowship Scotland this year. I thoroughly enjoyed the event with the facial massage. It was great. You went in at first and there was music on... it was just so calming." She added: You just relaxed there, with your eyes closed and then the treatment started with the oils and the massage and it really was great... you could actually have fallen asleep!” On another of our Creative Breaks events, the afternoon tea for carers at a local hotel, Patricia said that it was lovely to meet up with other carers in such a pleasant setting for a few hours where they had chatted and laughed together.
We hope that carers/cared for thoroughly enjoy our programme of events. It is also hoped that they will have formed friendships with other carers who took part in the programme and that these friendships will continue, giving mutual, informal support as they continue with their caring roles.
Many carers said that the set-up and scheduling of the programme was fantastic and that the simultaneous events for their loved ones helped to ensure that they could come along and enjoy the carer events, safe in the knowledge that their loved ones were being well cared for too. There was evidence of friendships forming, as we had initially hoped for. Carers said that they really liked talking to others who truly understood, first-hand, what being a carer of someone with a dementia diagnosis was really like. This peer support was so important to us in the pre-planning phase, as we appreciated that this informal network of support could provide so many positives for carers. Carers said they had loved the additional events arranged and getting to meet so many other carers who really understood the caring role. We feel that the outcome has been met by a combination of the support provided by our staff team and the development of more informal peer support networks amongst the carers.
Patricia, who took part in the Creative Breaks programme, as did her husband Alan, who has a dementia diagnosis, said that she really appreciated the opportunities within the programme that enabled regular opportunities to meet up with other carers. Speaking about our afternoon get-together event for carers, Patricia said: “It was great to have some company with other people at the afternoon tea and hearing about other people's experiences. I enjoyed that side of it because you were hearing other people's opinions which can really help you when you are maybe overthinking things yourself. You're meeting people and are talking things out." She added: "Everyone living with dementia is different. There can be similar symptoms but they can come at all different times. It's good to hear other people's accounts of what they are experiencing. It helps you." After coming along to the programme’s beauty treatments and pampering day, Patricia said that she even felt the positive effects later on too. She added: I really enjoyed that day. You could just feel your whole body relaxing. "That night I felt calmer and I think it did help because I slept better at night after it.” Patricia also spoke about since having contact with another carer who had taken part in Creative Breaks after the programme itself had finished. She said that they had continued to speak about their respective experiences as a carer of someone with a dementia diagnosis and that this had been helpful, moving forward within her caring role. She said that the format of the programme itself was worked well too, as it enabled her husband to take part in fun events whilst she attended the carers’ events too. She said "I really enjoyed getting along to the singing event at the end too. "When I came in there he was up dancing with the entertainer! He really enjoyed that day and loved the music. It was so nice to see him enjoying himself.” Summing up how she felt about our Creative Breaks programme of events for 2022/23, Patricia said: “Going along to them has been a real release for me, because it can be really hard sometimes (as a carer).”