A story by ASRA
We delivered ‘Happy Breaks’ a programme of one-to-one and group support activities designed for older people (aged 65 to 89) and their carers from diverse communities who are socially isolated and housebound.
It aims to support them in improving their well-being and making positive difference in their lives.
What Happy Breaks did
The project completed its tenure on 30 September 2022. The activities delivered entailed 46 sessions of weekly yoga and keep fit classes and 23 sessions of multicultural group singing and music programmes. Twenty-three carers and twenty-two older people cared for who were socially disadvantaged and experienced poverty and inequality participated in the activities. Some of them were in their seventies and late eighties.
The project achieved its target of promoting the physical and mental well-being of the carers and cared for and offering them breaks and opportunities to enjoy a life outside their caring role. The project's success remained the outcome of the dedicated support staff and volunteers working in partnership with the local community and other third sector and statutory agencies. The project was able to address the following Creative Breaks priority areas.
Mutual benefit: The regular uptake of yoga/keep-fit and art/music activities significantly reduced anxiety/stress and helped the carers and those cared for improve their physical and mental well-being.
Personalisation: Six ASRA Board members, although frail, care for their older partners. Their direct participation and regular feedback collected through periodic questionnaires and pre- and post-delivery evaluation made the project truly personalised.
Targeted support: The support was targeted to the carers and cared for from minority ethnic communities living an isolated life and having a negative impact on their physical and mental health.
Adding value: Supporting beneficiaries, most of them were on the verge of becoming dependent upon the State, complemented the service that NHS and social work offer to people with complex and high care needs.
Knowledge and understanding: “Happy breaks” provided the carers with an open and easily accessible platform. Working in close partnership with other local agencies assisted in promoting an understanding of ‘short breaks’ and how they support people in a caring relationship.
What ASRA has learned
The project found the Short Breaks Consultation and Evaluation Toolkit extremely helpful.
The support improved the project’s evaluation and monitoring procedure. The outcomes were measured through consistent interaction with the participants, drawing their feedback/comments on how strongly they agreed/disagreed that the results were being met.
The project learned that targeting carers most in need of support, especially those on the verge of becoming dependent upon the State, through its early intervention and preventative measures. The questionnaires designed were simple and translated into mostly spoken ethnic languages amongst target users. Staff and volunteers assisted participants with limited English to complete monitoring and evaluation information.
How ASRA has benefitted from the funding
The funding and the support received from Short Breaks Fund helped the organisation to build skills, knowledge or capacity. Budget templates and training in managing finances assisted the project in improving its capacity for planning and budgeting. It improved the project's capacity to recruit, train and manage staff and volunteers to work with vulnerable people in a multicultural environment. Develop new partnership(s) or links. Publicity material such as posters and leaflets displayed in local community venues and delivered through doors in the target neighbourhoods, presentations in local community network meetings, and advertisements on the local community radio in Glasgow assisted the project in extending its links with other community service providers. The project strengthened its links with other groups, such as the Glasgow Carers Forum and other befriending and volunteer projects through cross-referrals and sharing of resources, in particular the resources that are limited like space, staff, volunteers and equipment that can be utilised/shared with others who have the same goals and serve communities affected by similar issues.
23 carers and 22 cared for will feel more confident, their caring relationship will be healthier, and they will enjoy improved wellbeing
46 sessions of weekly yoga and keep fit group activities provided opportunities for carers and the people they cared for to build their physical and mental strength, socialise with others and enjoy a break from their caring role. That contributed to improving their well-being and caring relationship. 23 sessions of multicultural music and singing sessions were delivered to the above people, brought a positive impact on their health and wellbeing
Mr and Mrs PK are a couple, both in their late seventies. They live on their own and care for each other, although they are frail and suffer from multiple health conditions. Not being able to communicate in English and their inability to operate a computer enhanced their feeling of being socially isolated. The Covid restrictions aggregated their situation, adversely affecting their mental and physical health. They were regularly supported to participate in project activities that helped them embrace gradual improvement in their physical and mental health and reduced social isolation.
23 carers and 22 older and frail people they care for will have reduced stress and feel physically and mentally active.
The regular uptake of yoga, meditation and keeping fit and music dance activities had a significant impact on reducing anxiety and stress and helped them to feel more physically and mentally active. They had an opportunity to enjoy a life outside of their caring role.
The group of carers and those cared for were asked to record their level of stress and physical activity at the start of the project and after 12 months when the project was about to conclude to record how they felt then. 99% reported their stress level had significantly reduced and they felt more energetic and active.
23 carers and 22 older and frail people they care for will feel happier and more socially connected
Regular uptake of group activities supported carers, and the cared for, provided a break from the caring environment, and made them happier. They had an opportunity to access the organisation’s ongoing service of information and advice on welfare rights benefits and housing issues to ensure they received maximum financial and housing support. This assisted them to feel stronger to sustain their caring role.
Mr KS is an 81-year-old gentleman who is a carer of his 78 years senior partner. The couple felt the project’s ongoing intervention had empowered them to live in the community, enhanced their understanding of ageing issues, and strengthened their capacity to manage them positively. In addition, they felt more connected by interacting and chatting with other carers and cared for people.