Eric Liddell Escapes (Eric's Escapes)
A story by The Eric Liddell Community
We delivered Eric Liddell Escapes a short breaks programme of trips and overnight stays for unpaid carer’s and the people they care for, together or separately, from the Edinburgh area. It delivered a creative form of respite alleviating some of the stresses and strains of everyday caring routines.
What Eric Liddell Escapes (Eric's Escapes) did
The Eric Liddell Escapes (Eric's Escapes) was a creative breaks programme designed and delivered by The Eric Liddell Community for unpaid carers and their cared for (together or separately), offering a form of respite from their caring role. Our trips provided some much needed quality restoration and relaxation periods as well as some trips designed to be more 'active' depending on the preferences and requirements of the groups.
These trips included:
Two overnight stay trips, one to Pitlochry, on 16th June, staying at the Hydro Hotel, where participants enjoyed walks around the town and made good use of the Spa facilities, particularly the pool. And an overnight trip to Dundee on 1st September with a stay in the Apex Hotel and a visit to the V & A where they enjoyed the tartan exhibition in particular. Although this was a smaller group size, this resulted in really positive feedback and people felt they could connect better socially with this size of group. Which we noted, that having more people is not always better, so perhaps more trips with some smaller group sizes would be more beneficial in the future.
Our day trips consisted of:
A trip to the Willow Tea Rooms which included a guided tour of the tea rooms, a craft activity then, tea, coffee and cake. Followed by some city centre shopping time. Using the train to Glasgow worked really well however we need to ensure we time the trains to avoid the 'slow train' to Glasgow in future.
A trip on the 15th May to Falconry Scotland on the outskirts of Edinburgh in the stunning grounds of Dalhoustie Hotel to meet some stunning birds of prey. Lunch at the Bridge Inn in Ratho afterwards, then a walk along the canal with carers and cared for.
Our next day trip was to Pollock Park and visiting the Burrell Collection on 7th June. We partnered with Milan SWO for this trip celebrating carer's week, a collaboration that worked really well and we plan to be able to do this again in the future. Our last day trip was on 13th September to Soutra Aisle for a relaxing scenic lunch. This was a last minute change from our planned trip to the Scottish Donkey Sanctuary due to transportation issues.
What The Eric Liddell Community has learned
During this first year of the project, dealing with unexpected challenges or opportunities was definitely our most frequent learning experience. However, these experiences and our ability to quickly resolve them both boosted our confidence and prepared and strengthened us for future delivery. We found that at times, no matter how well you plan and prepare, the unexpected can still occur.
We experienced a coach being double booked resulting in a 'no -show' of transport for our planned trip to the donkey sanctuary, our learning was not to use that private coach company again of course, but we re-arranged a trip to Soutra quickly, with alternative public transport and packed lunches - which turned out to be a very positive trip.
When visiting Pitlochry, out timing clashed with the most popular theatre time of the year, meaning that the only 2 taxi's in the full town were not accessible resulting in long waits. Therefore the next time, we'll book a more central hotel to avoid needing to take taxi trips.
There were also a few small practical details we learnt from such as planning for specific trains to avoid the 'slow trains' to and from Glasgow. If going to a restaurant with a large group, we should distribute the menu in advance and pre book the food to make it easier for everyone. We gained some ideas from the carers themselves through these experiences for new craft activities they would like to take part in at the Eric Liddell Centre hub as part of the wider carers programme which we will action.
We learned that at times, smaller groups can be more effective and beneficial to carers than larger groups, so maybe next year incorporate more trips with smaller size groups. These smaller size groups appeared to really connect socially better and more comfortably. And finally, we learned that partnership working was a positive experience for everyone and we will plan to do more of this in the future.
How The Eric Liddell Community has benefitted from the funding
We have developed a stronger link with Milan SWO and will definitely be carrying out more partnership work in the future. Being with the carers and cared for in new and different environments but still as Eric Liddell Centre was a really good experience for us to see people in different situations, how they bonded (or didn't) as a group, however we're pleased to say they did! Its provided us with some good experience as a staff team, developed our relationships with our carers and cared for and provided us with the opportunity to support more carers in much need of respite and support. Its built our capacity in terms of us being able to provide this creative breaks programme - a new project for us, and increased our confidence in supporting groups out with our hub.
Opportunities for breaks and activities will be made available to carer and/or carer's and cared for together from across Edinburgh. 100% of this availability will be utilised.
This was one of the best parts of the programme to witness and be a part of. Carer's having time to chat, to others about other things in life, their caring roles or both. Enjoying time without worrying about their cared for persons care was temporarily lifted off their shoulders and they could properly relax and take notice of other surroundings and activities. Having that period where people could wonder about the shops, go a walk along the canal side, enjoy exhibitions, participate in activities was a joy to be able to provide for people in much need of a break. Being part of a group of carers and/or carers and cared for, supported people to realise that being able to enjoy a trip or activity was nothing to feel guilty about, everyone deserves time relax, re-energise or take part in something for themselves. People realised that this was a positive thing for them and their loved one they cared for. The activities on the breaks also encouraged people to try new things.
N and V attended the break to the Willow Tearooms in Glasgow. Being a carer for mostly all of her Childs life, N has never had a proper break from her caring role where she has participated in something for her, and not just for her cared for person. Having everything organised and arranged for them was the best part for N and V, N reported that it would just have been far too much stress and hassle to organise all that so she just wouldn't have bothered. She is so glad they took part and were able to experience not only a change of scenery and escape from their day to day routines but to learn things, experience a City they had not been in for years and participate in a craft activity which they really enjoyed. On the journey back from Glasgow N asked if there was any way we could purchase some arts and crafts materials for Eric Liddell Centre that they could use and carry out the stencilling or similar activity at sessions back at the ELC. This is something we are going to look into for them next year.
Over 80% of carers will feel that they are able to rest and relax during their break and that it had a positive impact on their relationship with their cared for person. 10 new carers will feel that they have been connected to a community what can support them to sustain their caring role longer
The carers who participated in the project have reported and indicated that they feel better supported to sustain their caring role and many people have taken steps during the time of this project to develop a stronger network of support around them. This has been a mix of support from other family members, friends and professional dependent on their circumstances, but everyone who attended the breaks knows and feel more confident to receive support from not only ELC but other caring organisations, healthcare professionals, community and voluntary organisations. Over 80% of carers felt they were able to rest and relax during their break . Over 80% of carers felt that attending Eric's Escapes trip/ stay had a positive impact on their relationship with their cared for person. 16 new carers felt they have been connected to a community with a base back in Edinburgh to enable them to continue and sustain their caring role and access long term support.
P is a care partner to his mum W that lives with dementia. Prior to the break he had no formal respite or carer's break. W has an Eric Liddell Centre befriender, on a very flexible basis, and attends the well-being lunch together with his mum on occasion. P’s only break had been in the weeks before when W was in hospital with a urinary tract infection. During this time P couldn’t sleep or rest, sleeping on the floor at W’s side at the hospital. P also has mental health conditions that make his caring role more challenging. He noted when he applied, he felt he would be abandoning her if went on a break, it had to be a break with her. Together they attended our trip to the Burrell Collection and Pollock Park. During the trip I encouraged him to take an hour to himself to explore the art and park. W and I sat in the sun, while she ate ice cream and allowed her to talk about living with P. P was reluctant to leave W for more than ten minutes at first, then it became longer as he knew W would be okay, and the trip was for him to have that space in a safe way. On discussing the break with him, he realised how much caring impacted on his mental health and wellbeing, as well as acknowledging he needed time out for himself. We discussed his sister helping more and looking at overnight breaks for him only. W has now got a care package, and P acknowledged this would help him in caring for her better. We are also in discussions about a befriender for P to give him more routine respite.
Over 80% of respondents who attended the trips on offer will report that attending the trip or overnight stay had a positive impact on their wellbeing. Over 80% of the people attended will report feeling less alone for having attended the trip. Over 80% of people will make new connections.
Everyone who attended the breaks reported or displayed signs of improved wellbeing in their post breaks feedback and questionnaires. Many aspects of the breaks contributed towards this improvement. Being amongst other people, both people in similar situations and other people they encountered whilst on the breaks was a simple but still significant thing for carers who are often consumed by their caring role to their cared for person. The interactions socially, helped them engage and care about others. The trips that involved the outdoors and nature provided beneficial impacts on wellbeing with nature and enjoying some fresh air, particularly with the falconry trip and the trips to Pollock park and Soutra. Participants wellbeing improved through experiencing something that was organised and prepared for them for a change, helping them to feel appreciated and that other people did care about them and wanted to do something to support them for a change which lifted their spirits.
R is the main unpaid carer for her adult son who has Dyspraxia and Epilepsy. R has discussed how she has anxiety issues, lacks confidence and at times can feel isolated due to her caring role. R described how her health and wellbeing has improved over the period with the support from our services and participation in the carers breaks. We have seen a developing growth in R’s confidence and self-esteem as evidenced by her attendance at other events and interactions with others, enabling her to participate in a wider range of activities. It has also helped her own physical, mental, emotional, and social wellbeing. We feel that by engaging with the services delivered here at the ELC R has built up various coping techniques and networks both social and professional to support her in her caring journey. Carers have talked about having access to advice, information and services to help them care well and look after themselves. They discuss wanting to be treated as individuals with their own health and wellbeing needs, and not only as a carer of someone else.