A story by ASRA
We delivered our project ‘Happy Breaks’ a programme of one to one and group support activities designed for older people and their carers from diverse communities who are socially isolated and/or housebound.
The aim was to support them to improve their well-being and make positive difference to their lives.
What Happy Breaks did
The project ‘Happy Breaks’ was launched in September 2018. It completed its one year programme of delivering a range of 1-1 and group support and befriending activities, and short breaks for carers and people cared for.
The group activities entailed;
Yoga/Meditation/Keep fit classes
Multicultural art, music and singing sessions
Healthy cooking classes and dietician advice
Three quarterly larger group meetings and workshops that were organised and attended by the carers and those cared for along with staff, volunteers, representatives from health and social care partnership and other voluntary agencies. The topics addressed were ‘Calorie dropping fat controlling’, ‘Happiness is your best friend’ and ‘Equal yet different’. The activities provided them the opportunity to socialise, attend workshops, share knowledge and skills, and a break from isolation. The carers and older people were escorted to the project venue to access activities.
Each cared-for person was allocated one session fortnightly of 3 hours each, where sessional worker/volunteers provided them with 1-1 personalised befriending support and provided their carers with a break.
The carers and those cared for were directly involved in planning and actively participating in the project. Most of them came from North West Glasgow who lived in social isolation.
The regular uptake of healthy cooking classes , yoga and art/music activities and regular usage of massage chair with listening to relaxing music in the chill-out area had a significant impact on reducing anxiety and stress and help the carers to improve their physical and mental wellbeing. Carers had more opportunities to enjoy a life outside of their caring role
Sessional staff and volunteers were recruited and provided training in a range of areas such as equality, discrimination, leadership skills, and Information technology that allowed them to enhance their existing skills and learn new skills in working effectively with vulnerable adults and communities from diverse cultures and origins.
What ASRA has learned
The support improved project’s evaluation and monitoring procedure.
The project found Short Breaks consultation and evaluation toolkit useful. Outreach befriending activities and regular and maximised community engagement in the delivery of the service assisted the project to reach out to and engage with new carers.
The project learnt that targeting carers most in need of support especially those who are at the verge of becoming totally dependent upon State, through its early intervention and preventative measures, would complement the service that NHS and social work offered to people with complex and high care needs.
How ASRA has benefitted from the funding
Creative Breaks funding assisted the organisation to develop new partnership/ links, publicity material such as posters and leaflets displayed in local community venues and delivered through doors in the target neighbourhoods, presentation in local community network meetings, advertisement on the local community radio in Glasgow assisted the project to extend its links with other community service providers. The project was able to strengthen its links with other groups such as Glasgow carers Forum and other befriending and volunteers projects. Creative Breaks support assisted the organisation to improve its skills and capacity to deliver the service. Budget template and training in managing finances assisted the project to improve its capacity in planning and budgeting. It improved projects capacity to recruit, train and manage staff and volunteers to work with vulnerable group of people in a multi-cultural environment.
22 carers and 21 cared for, will feel more confident, their caring relationship will be healthier and they will enjoy improved well-being
Group activities and flexible access to massage therapy, and 1-1 befriending support provided opportunity for carers and people they care for to build their physical and mental strength, socialise with others and enjoy break from their caring role. Having reduced stress and felt physically and mentally active, contributed towards improving their well-being and caring relationship. Three big group events were delivered where carers and people cared for had group discussions, input from health and care professionals, increased awareness of other support services available for carers and how to access them. This enhanced their confidence. They felt they were not alone and their caring role was well acknowledged and valued in wider society. Carers and cared for, felt more confident, their caring relationship became healthier and they started to enjoy improved well-being.
Mr KS is a 92 years old gentleman. 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 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 embrace gradual improvement in their physical and mental well-being, They have reported that due to the project intervention and support they managed to live longer and maintained independent living. Mr KS has become a regular user of the project and a volunteer who is happy to help.
22 carers and 21 older and frail people they care for will have reduced stress and feel physically and mentally active.
The regular uptake of healthy cooking classes along with dietician advice, yoga and keep fit programme, art/music dance activities and regular usage of massage chair with relaxing music in the chill out area had significant impact on reducing anxiety and stress and help the carers and the cared-for to improve their physical and mental well-being. One to one befriending support provided carers a break from their caring role and an opportunity to have time to themselves. Twenty-six carers and twenty-four older and frail people they care for had opportunity to enjoy time outside of their caring role.
Mr MJ is a 84 years old retired gentleman who is a main carer of his wife (75) Mrs S. Although Mr MJ has multiple health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and osteoarthritis and is very frail yet he is a devoted carer. His wife Mrs S suffers long-term illness and severe physical difficulties that are impacting on couple’s mental health. The couple reside on their own Mrs S became dependent on Mr MJ’s assistance and care. They felt isolated and had lost confidence. By their own admission, they were at the edge of becoming dependent upon the hospital care should they had not had project’s intervention. The couple were offered 1-1 befriending and support to participate in project ‘Happy Breaks’ group activities such as yoga / keep active, music and singing and cookery sessions. Mrs S has been receiving 1-1 befriending support where a member of staff / volunteer visit her home and spend a few hours with her. These provide Mr MJ a break from his caring role and spend time for him, meet up his friends. As per the feedback, they are regaining their confidence, improving their mental and physical health, made new friends and feel part of the community.
22 carers and 21 older and frail people they care for will feel happier and more socially connected
The carers and cared for supported came from minority ethnic communities and lived an isolated life. They found caring role to be hugely challenging and having negative impact on their physical and mental health. The project provided them support to stay healthy, independent and able to maintain choice over their lives. They feel that benefiting from regular group and one to one support activities, discussion and workshops with their peers and health and social care partnership professionals enhanced their confidence and knowledge of support services available. In addition they were supported to learn and improve social media skills such as Youtube, WhatsApp, FaceTime and email reduced their social isolation in the community.
Mr OJ – 79 years old retired gentleman who is carer of his 78 years old partner reside in NW Glasgow. The couple feel project’s on-going intervention has empowered them live in the community and has enhanced their understanding of ageing issues and furthermore, strengthened their capacity to positively manage them. Practising and learn basic IT skills while at the project premises encouraged Mr OJ to buy a smart phone which he can now use to chat with friends, download and play cultural music and make new friends.