A story by Helensburgh and Lomond Carers
Me time provided unpaid Carers in Helensburgh and Lomond with short breaks from their caring role. Carers attended one off events/blocks of physical activities within a variety of venues to promote a healthy lifestyle helping to reduce isolation , improve mental health and provide peer support.
What Me Time did
We delivered holistic therapies at both the Carers Centre and outreach bases at Garelochhead/Arrochar to 72 carers, each receiving a 6 week block. We prioritised newly registered carers to help build up relationships and offer peer support. We delivered CBT counselling to 12 carers , due to a rise in demand we extended this service to our outreach base using the funding and have a new counsellor providing this face to face service at Garelochhead this reduces the waiting list at Helensburgh and supports those who live on the peninsula .
Within Helensburgh we delivered Tai chi chair yoga and gym sessions for carers using various local venues funding covered the cost of venue hire and teacher 50 carers benefited keeping fit and meeting new people 20 Carers enjoyed a Christmas 2022 theatre trip to Glasgow including transport 2 course lunch and pantomime tickets. Due to demand we drew names out of a hat.
We delivered a summer 2023 theatre trip to Glasgow to see Rod Stewart Tribute again this was very popular and 20 carers enjoyed this having an evening event opened this trip up to those who work and also parent carers.
Our residential spa trips were a huge success 24 carers benefited from an overnight stay at Glynhill Hotel with spa treatment included Both residentials were based at Glynhill as they offered the best value for money due to the cost of living crisis.
During carers week we offered afternoon teas for 44 carers at Ardardan Estate these were much appreciated and helped to raise awareness of carers week and promote the charities work.
During August we delivered a swim and dine experience for 15 carers and cruise to Drymsinie estates not Loch Fyne as stated in our funding application this was due to rise in costs. Trip included transport, lunch and swim. Carers feedback was good and they preferred this location.
We delivered 2 cinema trips targeting our new men's and parent Carer groups x 40 benefited this helped to develop these groups and provide emotional and peer support to vulnerable groups. To allow us to provide activities/events volunteers attended this enabled us to maximise our small staff team and therefore deliver more service
What Helensburgh and Lomond Carers has learned
This funding allowed us to encourage carers to re-engage after covid restrictions were lifted. By offering a mixture of regular weekly and one off events this fund enabled us to provide a wide range of short breaks with something to suit all Carer interests/needs. This variety enabled carers to access activities despite a demanding caring role, we offered flexibility which increased engagement and prioritised newly registered carers, those who work and vulnerable groups.
Due to the cost of living crisis more carers were keen to engage with our free services to maximise their income and help them cope with these challenging times , families, those on low incomes and the elderly benefited greatly. We continued to work closely with other local organisations and partners to provide access to vital information during these times and continue to develop our services, this project helped us to reach out and continue with this joint work in making a difference to the lives of unpaid carers.
How Helensburgh and Lomond Carers has benefitted from the funding
The funding allowed us to deliver an extensive range of short breaks to carers and also offer two residential overnight spa breaks. The funding enabled us to extend our popular massage therapies and counselling services out with Helensburgh to develop our outreach base in Garelochhead. This provides carers who live in more rural and isolated areas to access our services. Working via the outreach base at Centre 81 and Arrochar three villages hall has strengthened our joint working within these communities and helped to identify new carers. We have established many new links locally whilst delivering this project and continue to develop positive relationships for future events and further develop the charities outreach work.
Through successful delivery of the ‘Me Time’ programme new and existing carers will report feeling better supported and now have/continue to have a life outside their caring role. They will feel valued and appreciated and better able to manage their caring responsibilities
Me time ensured that all registered carers were offered a regular short break from their caring role. The variety of activities provided ensured there was something for everyone and we targeted new carers to encourage building of relationships and offer peer support.
A cares for her husband who has long term health problems and previous cancer surgery. A provides personal care, medication and emotional support to her husband in all his daily needs. A felt undervalued , isolated and lost. Since registering with the carers Centre A has participated in many activities through Me time and this has enhanced her life. She has made new friends for support, tried new thing such as Tia chi and gym classes boosting her physical and mental health and enjoyed an overnight spa break. A admits that her mental health was suffering and prior to registering she felt suicidal. Quote from carer "This really has been a lifesaver for me and I dread to think where I would be without the support from the carers Centre and funding. I have met people who care and support me and understand my caring role. I have been able to ask family and my neighbour to help so I can attend activities at the carers Centre to get a short break from caring. I feel valued and important. I cant thank you enough"
Through the ‘Me Time ‘programme carers will report they are better able to sustain their caring role. Their anxiety and stress levels will reduce, they will feel less isolated and have more time to themselves.
By delivering Me time activities, 1-1 counselling and therapies carers were offered the opportunity for carers to take time for themselves , de stress, encourage them to relax and gave them the opportunity to meet other cares at the Centre to reduce isolation and offer emotional support.
Evaluation of therapies for carers Me time feedback collected How carers felt before therapies, Lonely/isolated/trapped/stressed/in pain/low mood/anxious/depressed /sad and hopeless. How carers felt after the sessions, relaxed/free from pain/better able to care/enjoyed meeting new people/looked after/calm/confident/at peace/cared for/lighter. Other feedback from carers - such a relaxing space/a luxury/time for me at last thank you/I feel valued/ This is vital support for carers thanks to funders/ a lifeline/ I feel listened to
Carers will tell us that they feel their physical and mental wellbeing has improved, thus enabling the above 2 outcomes. Carers will feel more energetic, relaxed, feel like they have a good support network around them and family relations will improve.
Carers that took part in the Me Time activities and events were offered the opportunity to take time to focus on their own health and wellbeing. This project made carers a priority and looked after their needs and by doing so this impacted positively on the whole family improving relationships and the carers ability to cope with all the day to day difficulties they may face.
Carer B cared for her partner who had complex health needs was receiving palliative care, had COPD and was alcohol dependent. B cared for him on her own and family relations were very difficult and stressful at times. B struggled to juggle work and her caring role and could get very low due to her caring situation. B has been attending chair yoga block through Me time fund and at times this is the only good thing in her week. B also benefited from 1-1 counselling and therapies to help reduce stress and help her cope with her caring role and bereavement when her partner sadly died. This was focused 1-1 time for B so staff could offer emotional support when needed. B found the counselling vital in helping her cope and being able to access this through the carers Centre saved her long NHS waiting lists and money. Quote from carer "I want to thank the carers Centre for all the years of support. The opportunity to access these short breaks has made all the difference to me as a carer. Yoga has helped me cope with my caring role, grief and I feel more positive about the future with these coping tools. "