Fifers Wee Breaks Project
A story by Deafblind Scotland
The Fifer Wee Breaks project offered a programme of spa breaks, walks and friendship opportunities for carers/cared for people in Fife. The carers/cared for persons were people living with sensory loss (deafblind/D/deaf and or visually impaired people).
What Fifers Wee Breaks Project did
Activities included; spa days with a meal, Christmas Lunch, Spring time Lunch, Organised walks with lunch. The Spa days were at Bannatyne’s Spa, Dunfermline. Deafblind Awareness information was provided to staff before people attended. Participants reported they were well looked after and supported at the spa. Staff were very accommodating of adjustments and flexible when dates needed to be changed. Beneficiaries then enjoyed a meal at either Frankie and Benny’s or Tony Macaroni’s.
The 4 walks with lunch ran during June/July/August at Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy, Loch Leven, Craigtoun Country Park, Riverside Park, Glenrothes. The beneficiaries were identified through our Connect 2 Support (C2S) Welfare Rights programme in Fife (funded by the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership). Further people were identified by the C2S project worker, raising awareness of the welfare rights support available from Deafblind Scotland and the opportunity to get involved with this project. A questionnaire was then circulated to gather views on the project activities.
Imbedded in this project were the Creative Breaks principles:
Mutual Benefit – offering several options, personalised to each of the carers/cared for individuals, for rest, relaxation and opportunities to others with similar experiences. One couple where the carer was caring for a partner with dementia, found taking the cared for person to the spa would be anxiety provoking, instead they opted to arrange for someone to care for the deafblind person. This Targeted Support made it possible to reach some of the most vulnerable people who had not have these opportunities in a very long time.
What Deafblind Scotland has learned
We found various new avenues for reaching out to carers/cared for people living with sensory loss. Many of the people involved had never engaged with Deafblind Scotland before. Bringing these opportunities closer to where people live was greatly beneficial and more accessible for them.
This has allowed us to find out from individuals what activities in their area would be most beneficial. We developed a project plan and budget that worked well in meeting those needs that can then be replicated and scaled up as we expand this work. It was encouraging to see the work of the project making real improvements to this group of vulnerable people’s lives.
The project has furthered Deafblind Scotland’s understanding of the importance of social and relaxation events to improving the health and wellbeing of carers and cared for deafblind people. We have learned more about the future activities participating carers would benefit most from and their ideas included: Keep fit, anything social, Museum trips, Coffee mornings, Theatre visit/ pantomime and Meals out.
The evidence gathered, the learning and the suggestions for future project activities have all be embraced in Deafblind Scotland’s next application to Creative Breaks which was successful.
Through the project, it has been established that many of the carers we engaged with were desperate for contact with other people and therefore have been very enthusiastic about being involved in the project. It has become clear that the need for social interaction and peer support opportunities has been considerable for this group of carers and the marginalised deafblind people they support. The project has learnt that maintaining good health and wellbeing has been particularly challenging for this group following the recent pandemic and the resulting isolation. We also learned that this had been compounded by the cost of living crisis which had made social activities a luxury too far for many.
How Deafblind Scotland has benefitted from the funding
This funding ensured that we could work with various groups and organisations in Fife and identify individuals who are carers/cared for people with sensory loss has strengthened our presence in Fife with organisations and vulnerable individuals. This expanded our work in the Fife area and we plan to continue to grow our work with those who experience sensory loss in the Fife area. The encouraging feedback from everyone involved in the project gives us a solid platform to build upon. It also builds our understanding of how few supports are available for carers of people with sensory loss who are often older and isolated. It is clear that there is a desperate need for a range of future work in fife. The success of piloting this project in Fife has also led to us successfully applying for further funding to expand these activities in Fife and into Glasgow as well.
8 carers will report they feel cared about and supported by professionals and peers so they can sustain their caring role as a result of the Fifers Wee Breaks project.
Carers were supported through individualised support ensuring each individual’s needs were met. This was achieved through providing accessible information about the restaurants, Spa options and the various walks. Before an event, each participant is individually contacted through their preferred method of communication (email, letter, phone, text etc.); the project worker makes arrangements for support and transport and any other requests from the participants. This person-centred approach has ensured each person receives the individualised support they need. Support has included providing taxis, a guide/communicator to accompany the deafblind person to an event, or a guide/communicator who is a registered social care worker to be with a deafblind person at home while the carer attends one of the events. Survey evidence of impact Question: Have you felt supported through the activities that have been organised for you? 100% of people chose 5 = strongly agree (on a scale of 1-5)
JP is a carer for her husband who is deafblind and also has dementia. JP had had very few opportunities for respite breaks and was low in mood. She was interested in the spa break but was concerned about taking her husband as this could make him anxious. The project worker told JP that a guide communicator could be provided for her husband when she was at the spa break. JP could then relax knowing she didn’t need to be a carer for that afternoon and her husband was being well cared for at home. JP commented. “I felt so relaxed after the spa day, thank you, I’ve never had this kind of opportunity before”.
8 carers and 8 cared for people report that they are feeling more relaxed and less stressed as a result of the Fifers Wee Breaks project. They indicate they have had more feelings of happiness and feelings of anxiety/stress have reduced.
We provided the 2 lunches, 4 walks and 6 spa breaks (for 2 people). The project evaluation clearly evidenced that carers and cared for people’s wellbeing has improved as a result. It has also evidenced that this kind of respite has been much needed for some time. All participants have shown a keen interest in having future activities for carers and cared for deafblind people. Survey Evidence of Impact, Question: If you attended the Christmas or Spring lunch or a Spa Day have you experienced an improvement in your wellbeing, feeling less stressed more relaxed? 1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree 85% of people scored 4’s and 5’s agreeing that they experienced and improvement in their wellbeing. The other 15% still reported an improvement but this was towards the middle of the range.
Mr and Mrs B are always together and because of Mrs B’s significant sensory loss never have the opportunity to go out. This has affected their mental health and wellbeing. When contacted about the project and the support it provided for carers and cared for people to have respite breaks, they decided they would both like to go on the spa break. After the spa break, the couple commented “We’ve never been apart all of our marriage and having the opportunity to go together and spend time in a more relaxing environment was 'so special' particularly as it was our wedding anniversary”.