Hopscotch Short Breaks
A story by Caring in Craigmillar
We organised 2 short 5 day breaks for 16 older people with dementia to Argour, Ardnamurchan Peninsula, West Scotland which also gave their carers space to organise their own respite break.
What Hopscotch Short Breaks did
We targeted current service users (cared for older people) who attend Caring in Craigmillar who are over 65 years with signs of dementia.
We organised both residential experiences at a Centre in Argour owned by Hopscotch. We had previously used this Centre with other older people and feedback has always been so positive.
Each residential consisted of 5 days/4 nights. Using the Hopscotch Centre as a base we arranged trips to Ben Nevis, The Harry Potter Museum and Bonny Prince Charles Memorial at Glenfinnan. We also recognised that the older people benefited from quieter times in the Centre chatting with friends enjoying each other's company so we do not over burden them with too many trips out.
As a consequence of planning and organising these short breaks well in advance, carers back in Edinburgh were also able to plan how best they could use this time. Feedback afterwards has shown that some arranged their own break, some organised activities in and around Edinburgh that is normally more difficult (shopping trip, family days out). Some carers told us they used the free time to do things around their house that is difficult when the cared-for person is around - one told us they had a good spring clean, another did some decorating.
The week was a tremendous success for Mrs B. She was more relaxed and happier than she had been in a long time. She forged a couple of strong friendships and has become much more outgoing at day care. Her grandson was able to do some work about the house and stated he had enjoyed the time to do some of the improvements for his much loved gran’s benefit. He also enjoyed the few days with his partner and their new baby
What Caring in Craigmillar has learnedWe have been fortunate to receive Creative Breaks funding for a number of years. During this time we have learned lots with regard to organising short breaks for older people with dementia.
By offering such support over and beyond our daily service we can add value to our relationship with both the cared-for person and carer(s). By targeting newer service users we can help raise awareness with carers of the benefit of looking after their own needs: and then actually give them time to realise that respite is of real benefit to them.
Taking older people with dementia away from their familiar surroundings even for the best of intentions can cause them some stress and strain. So be prepared to accept that even if throughout the planning everyone is keen to go, once you arrive at somewhere where the cared for person doesn't know that they do not settle and want to go home.
We have learned not to over plan a programme of activities/trips when on the residential. Having said that staff are aware of different opportunities where they can visit, if appropriate. In our experience we have learnt that older people with dementia cannot cope with too many changes all at once.