Free Respite Project
A story by Crossroads North Argyll Care Attendant Scheme
We provided respite to enable carers to have a much needed break each week, to meet up with friends, go for hair appointments etc. anything that helps their own mental health and wellbeing, which has been affected through the lockdown period. We supported the cared-for person by doing activities with them.
What Free Respite Project did
With this funding we have been able to provide free respite for unpaid carers in Oban, Lorn and the Isles. We have gone from providing 74hrs per week respite and 21hrs for the Monday Group to 90hrs per week respite and 24hrs for the Monday Group.
We have had 61 new carers registered with us since last October 2021, 8 of these being on Mull. We have developed the service on the Island of Mull and the Isle of Seil, plus out to more outlying rural areas of Oban and Lorn. We now provide respite in Dalmally, which is a 3hrs round trip and 52 miles return.
The Island of Mull is a huge island to cover. We now have 3 staff based on the Island, one in Tobermory, one in Salen and one in Craignure, so we are able to cover most of the island now apart from the Ross of Mull and Iona, so we are still trying to get a member of staff who lives down that way.
We meet with the carer and the cared for to decide what is the best time for them and what the cared-for person would like to do when we are supporting them. We encourage them to get out and about if they are able or we do activities if we stay at home. The time is agreed with the unpaid carer and crossroads. It is the same day and time each week and it is the same member of staff who supports them each time.
The unpaid carers have been referred to us through North Argyll Carers Centre, The Dove Centre (Hospice), the Dementia Team, Social Work, local GPs, District Nurses, OT and they can self-refer too. We work very closely with all the above partners, so that we can ensure that unpaid carers are receiving the relevant support they require.
We have recruited 8 new members of staff to cover all the new referrals and existing staff have taken on additional hours. We provided training for all staff in Dementia Awareness, Adult Protection and Moving and Handling. We have covered the priorities - Carers who live in remote and rural areas and those living in areas of deprivation.
Carers who support someone who has had at least one hospital stay in the past 12 months. Although Mull was a struggle to get off the ground, the feedback we are getting is that the service is meeting a great need on the island.
What Crossroads North Argyll Care Attendant Scheme has learned
Project planning and budgeting was difficult this year as we have received a huge increase in referrals to Crossroads. Developing the service on Mull and in outlying rural areas has seen the mileage budget rocket. It is difficult to employ staff in these areas, so staff travel from Oban or cover a bigger area on Mull.
Mull took a long time to get started, but now that we have 3 staff on the island, we are receiving more referrals. We have noticed that the cared-for person's illnesses tend to be more advanced that a lot of people on the mainland. Unpaid carers are very isolated on Mull as there was no respite on the island unless they went into a home. The unpaid carer wanted someone to talk to as well, so assessments to longer than they normally do.
Also, travelling round Mull takes a long time so it is difficult to fit in meeting as many unpaid carers as you would like. We were also tied to time because of the ferry back to Oban. However, we have now employed a retired Social Worker who is doing the assessments, can fit more in and is not having to chase for ferries.
We have developed good partnership working with Social Work, OT, GPs, District Nurses and the local carers centre. This has helped us to introduce the right support at the right time. so that the unpaid carer and cared-for person are not overwhelmed with everyone going in at the same time. This has helped us to support unpaid carers early on in their caring role so hopefully prevent them getting into crisis or with a hospital admission.
How Crossroads North Argyll Care Attendant Scheme has benefitted from the funding
Crossroads has benefitted from this fund as it has enabled us to expand out to other areas and to offer additional respite if this is what is required. We were able to secure some additional funding as we had already secured the creative breaks funding. This enabled us to develop the service on Mull and the outlying areas. We were able to employ more staff too.
50 Unpaid carers will have received respite once a week to meet up with friends, go to the hairdressers, attend a group etc. The weekly impact reports will evidence what the unpaid carer has been able to do during their break from their caring role.
We provided respite for 91 Unpaid carers over the past year. The numbers increase is due to unpaid carers struggling during lockdown and also people now recognising themselves as unpaid carers as their caring role has increased during covid. The normal outside support had not started back e.g. day centre, community groups, so we were the only support along with paid carers who worked throughout the lockdown. This helped the unpaid carer's and the cared-for's health and wellbeing. We took the cared-for person out and sometimes the unpaid carer, as they were a bit apprehensive about going out on their own. This however, still supported the unpaid carer as the member of staff supported them when they were out too.
One unpaid carer was struggling with their caring role as she and her husband both have cancer. Her mental health wasn't great. We started providing respite for her to give her a wee break from her caring role. Her biggest delight was getting to go to a Pink Ladies Day knowing that her husband was being looked after and doing something he enjoyed too and was safe. We are no longer supporting this couple, as their illnesses are well controlled for now and they feel they don't need our service at the moment. They said that we helped them get through a very difficult time and know that we are here if they need us again.
50 unpaid carers will have met with the manager and discussed the respite service with them. Unpaid carers have been involved in the decisions regarding their respite.
The Manager met with 65 unpaid carers and cared-for to discuss the respite service with them. Once a Care Needs assessment has been carried out then the Manager matched up the needs with the relevant Care Attendant. The Manager and Care Attendant met with the unpaid carer to discuss what was the best day and time for respite and also what the cared-for person would like to do. This ensures that the service we provide is person-centred. We review the service after 6 months to check that we are still meeting the needs of the unpaid carer and cared-for.
The Manager met with an unpaid carer and her mum to discuss respite. They discussed what was required from the unpaid carer and what the needs of the cared-for person was. The unpaid carer was very happy to receive respite, which allowed her to visit her daughter and granddaughter and also to spend some time with her husband. Her mum enjoyed the outings out for coffee with the Care Attendant, this helped to keep the cared-for person active and helped improve her moods, which also helped the unpaid carer. After the 6-month review, it was decided that there was a need for further respite for the unpaid carer and we added an additional day.
75 unpaid carers and cared-for people’s mental health and wellbeing are good due to spending some time apart from each other. Carers and cared-for have a better relationship with each other.
91 unpaid carers received respite every week which enabled them to meet up with friends, go to the hairdressers, catch up on sleep, go shopping, attend a group. This all helped the unpaid carer to have a break from their caring role which improves their own health and wellbeing and therefore enables them to carry on in their caring role. The cared-for person was also taken out and encouraged to keep active and involved in everyday things, going for coffee, going for a walk etc. If they were not able to go out because of mobility issues, then we supported them in doing some activities to keep the brain active eg. jigsaws, crosswords, listening to music. This helped keep the cared-for person motivated and active and also gave them some space to do things away from the unpaid carer. This break apart certainly helped the relationship between the unpaid carer and the cared-for person because they were having time apart from each other and there were different things to talk about.
We take a cared-for person living with dementia out a few times a week. She attends the Monday Group with other cared-for people which meet for lunch with staff from Crossroads. She loves going out on a Monday with friends (as she calls them) for lunch. She enjoys the interaction and feels very supported by the staff who run the group. She gets all dressed up and puts on her make-up and feels good about herself. Her daughter, who is her unpaid carer, also works full-time from home and has 2 teenage boys to look after. Her mum lives in the granny flat attached to their house. The relationship between all the family and the cared-for person has improved as they are receiving a break from each other. The cared for person has stories to tell them when she comes back and is always cheery after been out at the group. This gives her daughter time to concentrate on her work and not have to worry about her mum as she knows she is well looked after and enjoying herself. She loves that her mum gets dressed up and puts on make-up because she has somewhere to go.