A story by ASRA
‘Happy Breaks’ is 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/or housebound. It aims to support them to improve their wellbeing and make a positive difference in their lives.
What Happy Breaks did
The activities delivered entailed 46 weekly sessions of; Yoga/Meditation/Keep fit facilitated by the bi-lingual instructor. These sessions were tailor-made and aimed at promoting the well-being of the target group. Music and singing sessions. Most of the older carers from minority ethnic communities are shy and need huge encouragement to come out and unmask their hidden musical and singing talent. This activity provided them environment they felt comfortable sharing and learning cultural music and songs in their first language.
Coffee afternoon sessions. Each session lasted for a minimum of two hours. The staff and volunteers prepared snacks for them and encouraged and supported them to share other fun activities during the session, such as storytelling, life experience, crossword, Ludo and card games. People from other statutory and third-sector agencies were invited to come along and facilitate discussion over matters that were directly relevant to the carers and those cared for and other services available for them in the community.
3 group day outings, a coach for 52 people was hired, and the day outings were facilitated with the assistance of sessional staff and volunteers. The route and place to visit were decided with consultation with the carers and cared for which reflected the best value for money. The activities quoted above, except day outings, took place at ASRA premises at the ASRA venue at Community Central Hall, 304 Maryhill Road, Glasgow G20 7YE. The organisation hired a part of the CCH that comprised one small and one medium-sized hall and a shared kitchen.
We recruited and trained three sessional support workers and 3 volunteers who were provided with adequate training that included equality, confidentiality, effective communication and awareness of carers and cared for rights. The project provided support to 23 carers and 22 cared for who were socially disadvantaged and experienced poverty and inequality. Most of them fell within the category of groups of protected characteristics. Most of them lived an isolated life. They had become vulnerable and required urgent support to be able to sustain good quality and dignified care.
What ASRA has learned
The target group had gone through a difficult time during the pandemic. Following coronavirus restrictions phased out, the vulnerable members of the community living in isolation suffered anxiety and fear of the pandemic return. Not knowing if there would be any long-term negative impacts of COVID-19, they needed enhanced and sustainable support to regain and maintain physical and mental strength by accessing activities they had tried and found benefits in the past. The project targeted carers most needing support, especially those on the verge of becoming dependent upon the State, as reflected in its early intervention and preventative measures.
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 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 support received from the Short Breaks Fund helped the organisation build/strengthen its managerial skills, knowledge, and 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. The organisation consolidated existing partnership work and, through networking, developed 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 ties 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 older and frail people they care for will have reduced stress and feel physically and mentally active. Regular yoga, meditation, keeping fit, music and dance activities, coffee afternoon sessions and will give them more opportunities to enjoy life outside their caring role.
46 sessions of yoga/meditation were delivered to 23 carers and 22 older people. 46 sessions of multicultural music and singing sessions were delivered to the above people. Coffee afternoon sessions delivered them the opportunity to take part in brain-challenging exercises such as quizzes and solving crosswords. It helped carers and cared for to feel mentally and physically active, enhance memory retention capacity and enjoy some time outside their caring role.
Mr KS was also the carer of his wife, who was very frail with multiple physical health issues that impacted their mental health. With limited English language and Mrs KS’s being housebound, they became socially isolated and suffered stress. They were assisted and encouraged to take part in the project programme of group and one-to-one support activities. The service provided respite for Mr and Mrs KS from their caring role, enhanced social connection and assisted them in embracing gradual improvement in their physical and mental wellbeing they have reported that due to the project intervention and support, they managed to live longer and maintained independent living.
23 carers and 22 older and frail people they care for will feel happier and more socially connected
The carers and the people they care for were assisted to complete pre and post-project delivery questionnaires to ascertain how they felt at the start of the project and then at the end of the project. 46 sessions of coffee afternoon aimed to provide carers and cared for some fun time. They could make new friends, and staff and volunteers encouraged and helped them practice social media skills. They felt more socially connected. 3 quarterly day outings to places of cultural heritage and leisure interest supported carers and cared for a break from the caring environment and made them happier. They felt more connected by interacting and chatting with other carers and caring for people.
Mr NK is an 81-year-old retired gentleman who is a carer of his 78-year-old partner. The couple feels the project’s ongoing intervention has empowered them to live in the community, has enhanced their understanding of ageing issues, and, furthermore, has strengthened their capacity to manage them positively. Helping with practicing and learning basic IT skills while at the project premises encouraged Mr NK to buy a smartphone which he can now use to chat with friends, download and play cultural music and make new friends.
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 group activities and flexible access to massage therapy provided an opportunity for carers and the people they care for to build their physical and mental strength, socialise with others and enjoy a break from their caring role. This contributed to improving their well-being and caring relationships. The above people received 46 multicultural music and singing sessions. This positively impacted their health and well-being. 46 coffee afternoons included having representatives from other services come along and deliver information on a range of matters or concerns that are directly relevant to carers and cared for, such as support services available, healthy diet and carers' legal rights. This helped them improve their self-confidence and pleasantly affected their caring relationship.
Mrs K is a 77-year-old lady, the sole carer of her husband, who is a retired entrepreneur. He is 84 and has been running a post office for 40 years. He was active until after his retirement at 67, when he felt forgetful. He was diagnosed with dementia and became very frail. Over the recent years, he has become more dependent on Mrs K to manage his daily tasks. Moreover, he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and is about to start his therapy treatment. Mrs K herself has multiple health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and osteoarthritis and is very frail, yet she is a devoted carer. This is impacting the couple’s mental health. They felt isolated and had lost confidence. By their own admission, they were at the edge of becoming dependent upon hospital care should they not have the project’s intervention. The couple were offered 1-1 befriending and support to participate in project group activities such as yoga / keep active, music and singing and cookery sessions. These give Mrs K a break from her caring role and meet up with her friends. They receive regular support to ensure they are in receipt of the maximum welfare support they are entitled to. As per the feedback, they are regaining their confidence, improving their mental and physical health, making new friends and feeling part of the community.