Short Breaks Fund
A story by Lanarkshire Carers Centre
We provided grants directly to carers who live in Lanarkshire
What Short Breaks Fund did
This is the fourth year that Lanarkshire Carers Centre received funding to deliver a Creative Breaks project. Through evaluation and review continuous improvements have been made to the arrangements that support the fund including the application process, panel, advertising and administration arrangements.
All applicants must be carers or young carers who are caring for an adult (aged 21 or over). Information is available on line via our website, through the local carer support worker (or CLASP in Wishaw/Shotts) or by contacting Lanarkshire Carers Centre in Hamilton or the base in Airdrie.
An application form is completed by the carer, with support available when required. The support could be from the carer support worker/duty worker from Lanarkshire Carers Centre or a professional/practitioner from the local authority (South and/or North Lanarkshire) or NHS Lanarkshire). Once the application form is complete, it is then signed off by the local carer support worker or duty worker from Lanarkshire Carers Centre, regardless of who the referee is.
The panel includes members from South Lanarkshire Council Social Work Resources, North Lanarkshire Housing and Social Work Service, South Lanarkshire Carers Network, North Lanarkshire Carers Together, Lanarkshire Carers Centre including the chairperson of the Board who is also a carer. Each panel meeting involves 3 of the 6 panel representatives in the decision making process for applications. Applications are submitted and each month the panel meets to consider them. Applicants will normally be informed of the decision within seven days of the panel meeting following which arrangements are put in place for payments to be made.
The Creative Breaks Fund is advertised on our website, it is also discussed and promoted through all our outreach activities and services. It is highlighted at carer support groups, at any events, in the "Services We Offer" leaflet which is sent out to all carers on the database as well as to all new carers who contact the centre. It is also widely promoted by our partner organsiations. The funding is advertised in the SBCIS Newsletter. It is a standing item on the funders meetings.
50% of the funding was awarded to carers new to Lanarkshire Carers Centre. As well as short break provision these carers are now supported by a carer support worker in relation to their caring role. This facilitates access to the range of services provided by Lanarkshire Carers Centre including one to one support, training, carer support groups, pampering, podiatry, respitality, caretalk, accessing income maximisation clinics, accessing legal clinics to name a few.
80% of the new carers who applied for Creative Break (Time toLive) funding spent the time on overnight stays of various duration. 30 of the cared for people spent the time either at respite or with a family member or friend to allow the carer to have the break on their own.
20% of the new carers had a short break that did not consist of overnight stays, a few of which were driving lessons, a motorbike show, singing lessons, gym memberships, days out, theatre tickets and tree cutting.
One carer, who cares for her husband who has a brain injury (causing physical disability, executive dysfunction and non-epileptic seizures) applied for Creative Break funding in order to cut back trees which were overhanging into her garden from her neighbour's garden. The trees overhung into Mrs D's garden and blocked the sun. The carer also had to clear away the fallen leaves in autumn and this causes her excruciating pain as she has to bend to clear them and Mrs D suffers from back pain. The carers application stated that she and her husband would benefit from clear space in the garden where they could sit undisturbed. This would help alleviate stress and physical pain.
Mrs D has to help her husband around the house, help him with personal care, moving him in and out the shower and support him during and after seizures. She had to give up work to care for her husband and is in constant pain with her back. She informed us that she feels stressed all the time. The couple are in their late 40s/early 50s and receive welfare benefits due to Mr D's illness and have limited finances.
Upon being awarded the grant Mrs D said, "I am relieved of the physical tasks which cause me pain and now enjoy sitting in our garden. This has had a massive impact on our emotional wellbeing."
36 carers applied for Creative Break funding for innovative and ongoing short breaks. Some of these were a motorbike show, driving lessons, tablet/I-pad, getting trees cut, gym memberships, theatre breaks and festivals. The driving lessons, gym memberships, M & D's season pass, cinema passes, skiing lessons, singing lessons, cutting trees have meant that there is continuous and ongoing breaks occurring. Carers have told us that this means they have more time to themselves and the short breaks mean they are able to sustain their caring role and benefit from the opportunity to have a life outside of their caring role.
5 carers applied for a gym membership and this means that they will benefit from improved physical and emotional wellbeing.
Mr A cares for his wife who has multiple sclerosis and this has progressed rapidly since diagnosis 6 years ago. Mrs A has also been diagnosed with early onset dementia. The couple are in their early 50s and Mr A had to give up work to care for his wife as she could not be left alone. She is now immobile and confined to a wheelchair, she is incontinent and has swallowing and speech difficulties. Mr A cares for his wife around the clock and Mrs A is now unable to go out due to her deteriorating physical and mental health.
The couple live in a small, isolated rural village and Mr A has become socially isolated due to his caring role and his own health has deteriorated. He was a very fit and active man participating in cycling, hill walking and he went to the gym. Mr A applied and was successful in a Creative Breaks award for a gym membership. He will attend the gym when there is support in place for his wife and it will be time limited continuous short breaks for him. This will improve Mr A's mental health.
Mr A's sister in law, who lives in the same village, will sit with Mrs A either in the evening and/or at the weekend to allow him to attend the gym. Mrs A receives home based respite 2 x 4 hours per week and this allows Mr A to go shopping, banking, run errands etc however he has to return home during the four hour period as there is only one worker but it takes two people to assist with Mrs A's personal care. This restricts were Mr A can go to and it also increases the cost as he has to travel back and forth.
Mr A purchased a one year membership to South Lanarkshire's Leisure Club's Active Scheme and this includes the use of all South Lanarkshire gyms, saunas, steam rooms and fitness classes with a Leisure for All concession card. This membership has meant that Mr A can have regular short breaks, the fitness regime has proven to be beneficial to Mr A's mental health and self esteem. The swimming/sauna has allowed him to relax and have some "me time" while his wife is being cared for by a family member.
In most cases the general theme was around future planning for the cared for, especially when the carer was older. One carer who is 73 years old cares for his 32 year old son who has a learning disability (epilepsy and echolalia (continuous repetition of events and repetitive speech). Both parents care for their son who requires constant care and support to perform basic tasks. He is unable to leave the house alone or be unsupervised. He is incontinent during the night and the bedding has to be changed. During the day his echolalia means he is constantly talking and his parents have to ensure he does not become too excited as this can trigger his epilepsy.
Both carers are pensioners and are extremely tired and exhausted looking after their son. Mr P suffers from COPD and Mrs P has undergone treatment for breast cancer, and is now on medication which leaves her bones sore. The couple are unable to spend time together and are in desperate need of a break away. The couple successfully applied for a Creative Breaks award and enjoyed a 5 day break in Fife.
The cared for receives 12 hours self directed support per week and respite care for up to 1 week a few times a year. He also has a job for 12 hours per week but Mr P takes him there and picks him up. The couple feel that they would like to spend time together and walk, read and relax. Mr P said, "my wife and I are not getting any younger and with my wife's illness we realise that our time together is precious, it would be lovely to spend time together and allow us to plan for the future."
The time away meant that Mr and Mrs P had renewed energy and that their son was able to benefit from this too. They are normally unable to go out for an evening without their son or spend time together as a couple. Mr P informed that the break gave them the luxury of choice, there were no restrictions and no timetables to adhere to and they fully appreciated the break.
What Lanarkshire Carers Centre has learnedLanarkshire Carers Centre have had Creative Breaks funding for the last four years. In the last round of funding the total award increased and also expanded to include carers in South Lanarkshire. This along with the revised eligibility criteria has resulted in more new carers accessing the fund. 50% of the overall award was given to carers new to Lanarkshire Carers Centre within the last two years, with 24% of them only known to us in the last year. This has been of great benefit to new carers, who as well as receiving the funding also access support in a holistic way through the range of services provided by Lanarkshire Carers Centre and other partner organsiations.
The Creative Break fund administration including, panel and payment arrangements, is a resource intensive piece of work which has been absorbed by core and project staff involved in Lanarkshire Carers Centre. This has had an impact on other activities but is recognised as a priority by all concerned. We have had to manage expectation of carers regarding the outcomes of applications and the timescales associated with the panel and payment process.
The success of the Creative Break fund has undoubtedly produced evidence and support in relation to the continuation of time limited projects - in particular our Short Breaks Carers Information Service which has made a significant contribution to the success of our Creative Breaks fund.
Partner organisatons have assisted with the promotion of the fund particularly colleagues in social work and health. The eligibility criteria helps to ensure that the fund is prioritised to carers who have not recently accessed support and this will be reviewed to further strengthen this aspect of the fund administration.
As part of our wider developments we have a new referral form and procedures for partner organisations and carers to self refer. Both include the opportunity to select 'short break' as the reason for referral. This is further widened access and enabled a broader range of organisations to refer. Our Creative Break fund is a standing item on team meetings and has also featured as part of a development session to ensure that we are promoting this opportunity in a variety of settings.