Free Respite Project
A story by Crossroads North Argyll
We provided a respite service for unpaid carers in Oban, Lorn and the Isles, to enable those looking after a relative/friend/neighbour to have some time to themselves. This helps to promote and maintain independence for both. Crossroads North Argyll is a registered charity.
What Free Respite Project did
We provided free/additional respite for unpaid carers, which enabled them to have a much-needed break each week to meet up with friends, go to hair appointments etc. anything that helped with their own mental health and wellbeing.
We have received new referrals from Social Work, Dementia Team, GPs etc. most days now. The Carers Centre complete Adult Carer Support Plans, where respite has been one of the things that the Carer has asked for, they were then referred to Crossroads. We also offered our existing unpaid carers additional hours if this was assessed as a requirement. This enabled them to meet with their friends more often or attend their groups of interest, so they felt better included in their community.
We took the cared-for person out for a drive in the car around the local area. We also take them for lunch or coffee. We encouraged them to go out for a walk as well, to help with their mobility. If the cared-for person wasn't able to go out, we stayed in and had a chat, played games, or listened to music with a cup of tea. We also encouraged them to do some baking or arts and crafts, which helped to stimulate their minds and kept them active.
We met weekly with the local Carers Centre, Social Work, Dementia Team, OTs, Physios, GPs, Community Nurses to discuss mutual clients and share information. Our whole ethos is about Mutual Benefit. Although we provide respite for the unpaid carer, we believe that if the cared-for person is looked after and involved in activities themselves, they are happier, allowing the unpaid carer to switch off, knowing the cared-for person is having fun too.
We agreed personal plans with the unpaid carer and cared-for, which told is what interests the cared-for person has and some background too. This enabled us to tailor the service. Our targeted support came from referrals as mentioned above. Challenges we have had was the size of the area we cover and the difficulty in recruiting staff.
What Crossroads North Argyll has learned
Targeting families most in need of support - it has been quite challenging to ensure that we are providing the support where it is most needed, but by working in partnership we can all agree where the support needs to go. Reaching out to and engaging with new families - we have had many new referrals over the past year and it is good to see referrals coming in for support in the outlying areas, more rural areas and the islands.
Dealing with unexpected challenges or opportunities - providing a service in the more rural areas of our patch has been very challenging but we feel that carers in these areas should be penalised because of where we live. This does incur huge mileage costs as sometimes it is hard to get staff who live in that area, so they have to travel from Oban. The Isle of Mull is also challenging as it is a big island to cover.
How Crossroads North Argyll has benefitted from the funding
We have developed new partnerships on both the Isle of Mull and the Isle of Seil. We work closely with Social Work, local GPs and Nurses on the islands, so we have more knowledge of what is happening with the clients and the area they live in. The service has developed on the Isle of Mull and the Isle of Seil because of these partnerships. We have certainly strengthened our organisations reputation with amount of new referrals that we have received.
70 Unpaid carers will have received respite once or twice a week (depending on their need) to meet up with friends, go to the hairdressers, attend a group etc.
We have achieved this outcome as we have increased our hours for some of our existing carers and we have also provided respite for new unpaid carers. We met with them to discuss what they wanted from the service, agreeing on when the best day and time was for the unpaid carer. This allowed them to make arrangements to meet up with friends, go to appointments, attend a group because they knew they were free at the same day and time every week.
This unpaid carer wasn't getting out of the house before we started providing the respite as the unpaid carer wasn't confident in taking them out. After assessment by Occupational Therapist, our staff were able to take the cared-for person out for a drive and stop off for a coffee and cake. They thoroughly enjoy getting out the house and it does help with their mood. The unpaid carer is happy that their cared-for person is out and about and they can meet up with their friends each week and not have to worry about their cared-for person. They have said that it has made a difference as they are in a better mood when they come back, which makes it easier to care for them.
70 unpaid carers will have met with the manager and discussed the respite service with them.
This has been achieved as we met with new carers and cared-for people before we started, to decide on what they would like us to do and when they would like us to provide the service. This means the carer can arrange things in advance, because they know when they will have a break. Feedback from carers is that it keeps them going because they know they will get a break each week and they look forward to it.
We have had many new referrals which entails having an assessment meeting and then a follow up meeting with the member of staff, myself, the carer and cared-for. One new carer has found it difficult to get any free time to herself. She found the assessment meeting and follow-up meeting with the member of staff very useful, as she felt she was being listened to and had a choice of when she could get respite. She felt she had control. She is now attending a group each week, which enables her to feel part of her local community and it is helping her to cope better in her caring role as she knows she has something to look forward to.
75 unpaid carers and cared-for people’s mental health and wellbeing are good due to spending some time apart from each other.
The cared-for person was taken out each week for a drive, a walk, lunch, which helped with their mental health and wellbeing. They looked forward to going out on their own with the member of staff. The unpaid carer enjoyed having time on their own as well. It gave them something to talk about when they got back together.
This unpaid carer loved having time to themselves. Sometimes they would just stay at home and potter about in the house and do what they wanted, had a bath, did some cooking, knowing they didn't have to look after someone and could switch off. The cared-for person loved going out with the staff as they could choose what they did and felt in control. This was successful because both the carer and the cared-for person were in better moods as they had enjoyed the break from each other.