A story by Quarriers Carers Support Service Aberdeenshire
Young carers within Aberdeenshire aged between 5-18 years and Young Adult Carers benefitted from the Rainbow Days Project which included: social events, afternoon/high teas, activity days, wellbeing boxes.
What Rainbow Days did
We held online events for adult carers and their cared for with dementia to provide mutual benefit, which included: A social Christmas activity for 6 carers and their cared for? with afternoon tea. High teas for 10 carers and their cared for, giving them the opportunity to share their experiences and support one another.
We were unable to deliver our events for young carers during the Easter holidays due to Covid-19 restrictions at the time, however we held 3 events during the summer, with activities of their? choice, this included: 9 young carers from both age groups who attended activities at Haddo House Country Park that included Segway’s, bush crafts and a bouncy castle. 20 young carers from both age groups who attended 2 activity days at Lochter Activity Centre that included a BBQ, Go Karting, Archery and Segway’s.
The young people who participated were identified for support by the Carer Support Workers as being most in need of respite at the time.
The young carers reported that they had a great time with a much-needed break away from their caring responsibilities. They connected well with each other enabling them to gain peer support. Meeting our staff team in an informal and fun environment provided added value and helped the young people to engage more fully in the additional support offered by our Service.
We also provided 120 wellbeing boxes to young carers to enjoy some respite at home. 3 young carers previously been supported by our Service have joined as volunteers and attended the activity sessions to gain development in their role as Young Carer Mentors.
We experienced some challenges throughout the period of the grant including reduced staffing and Covid-19 restrictions however our dedicated Team worked with carers to adapt the project. This has helped us develop our knowledge and understanding for future delivery of short breaks.
What Quarriers Carers Support Service Aberdeenshire has learned
We were successful in negotiating discounts with Lochter Activity Centre for booking 2 events with them. We had not used them prior to this project and will use them again in the future as they accommodated and supported our young carers, who enjoyed the activities on offer. They are situated in the centre of Aberdeenshire which is helpful to limit travel as we need to transport the young people in from various locations across rural Aberdeenshire.
As we had limited capacity with regard the numbers able to attend the young carer events due to provider restrictions, our Carer Support Workers identified and invited the young carers they regarded as most in need of respite from their role.
The online support group format for the adult carers proved successful, and we will utilise that again. It is cost effective and enabled people to join who would not be otherwise able to travel to a physical venue with their cared for. We were hosting a Social Work placement student who provided support with some administration of the project. This enabled the student to learn new skills and work within the team whilst helping the Service. This experience has encouraged us to continue to accept students in the future.
We were able to attract new young carers into the service by advertising our events through our website and local networks. By delivering full day events we learned that it gave the young carers meaningful respite from their role, the chance to meet new friends and the opportunity and time to connect with our staff in an informal fun setting.
We were very impressed with the excellent support by the team at The Lochter Activity Centre that we have already used the venue to host another event and will continue to use for future activities.
We have faced challenges in delivering this project, however our dedicated team adapted the programme and the final project delivered was successful and met all outcomes. We needed to change providers and venues to manage restrictions in the numbers attending and therefore decided to use the bigger venues in the local area to facilitate slightly larger groups. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions at Easter we were unable to deliver all the 5 events planned and with the permission of Shared Care Scotland used the funding left within the budget to host another online event for carers and their cared for and issue wellbeing boxes to 120 young carers so they could enjoy some respite from their roles.
Female wellbeing boxes included:
• 1x Vegan Collagen Lychee Sheet Mask
• 1x Rose Quartz Chip Bracelet - Embrace Self Love
• 1x Chocolate Brownie Mug Mix
• 1x Patchouli Rose Mini Heart Bath Bombs x3
• 1x Very Berry Flavour Gummy Sweets
• 1x Self Care Journal
• 1x It's okay if - A5 Print
Male wellbeing boxes included:
• 1x It's okay if - A5 Print
• 1x Chocolate Brownie Mug Mix
• 1x Snooze Tea from Tea pigs
• 1x Detox Leafy Greens Sheet Mask
• 1x Enamel "Be Brave" Pin Badge
• 1x Multi-Functional Soap Sponge Charcoal
• 1x Notes Lilac & Mint Green A6 Notebook
We did not find any other sources of funding; however, we will use our learning to build on the success of this pilot project when approaching other funders.
How Quarriers Carers Support Service Aberdeenshire has benefitted from the funding
A new partnership was developed with the Lochter Activity Centre They were very helpful and supportive with our young carers and offered us discounts for our activity days. We have since hosted an October mini festival at the Centre with funding received for the Scottish Young Carer Festival. The provider of the wellbeing boxes, Treatbox was very impressive and offered quality gifts, value for money and a choice of items and we will use them again in the future. We received great feedback from the young carers who were delighted to receive them. Feedback from one carer: " Woop Woop - It came. I love it. Thanks so much". Promoting and sharing our experiences about the Rainbow Days project has created further interest in our work with our partners and networks and we expect to receive more referrals as a result. Attendance at the events helped our volunteers develop further in the role of Young Carer Mentors.
Carers will have made good connections with their peer group and feel more confident in their ability to continue caring. They will have strong links with the carer service and be able to engage for their benefit.
Young carers informed us that they appreciated the opportunity to come together as a group following the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and this has helped them to continue with their role. Many had experienced isolation and poor mental health due to lockdown. Service staff provided transport to enable them to attend the events and they informed us that they felt confident to attend due to the connection they had with their Worker. Adult carers who support a cared for with dementia were placed under further stress during lockdown. Their usual respite centres were closed, and our face-to-face support groups were not meeting. To help mitigate this we set up online support groups which provided much needed connection with other carers. The two online group events provided enabled carers to come together socially and we organised delivery of food to help facilitate this. Alzheimer’s Scotland staff attended along with our staff which enabled the carers to connect with this servic
Young carer X is a 13-year-old young carer who cares for her 11-year-old brother with challenging autism. She is regularly attacked by him and worries about him and her mum. During lockdown the pressures on the family were enormous. School was closed and her mum could not go out to work. The family were reliant on her dad’s wage and there was no respite from her brother. Mum was concerned that X was withdrawn, and she had lost interest in her peer group. X was at first reluctant to go on an activity day, however our Carer Support Worker spent time talking to her about her worries, informing her about the other young people who would be there. X decided to attend, which would not have been possible if her worker was unable to transport her as she didn’t feel confident and mum would not have been able to take her as Dad had the family car for work. X gave the following feedback: • “I loved the Go Karting and learning how to hold a rifle. I had a great day with K (her worker). I met L and A. We had fun at lunch, and I won the shooting competition. Beating T in the archery and Segway- Remember the number 7 T- It was very fun. I regret nothing”. • “Tom is ace and is just like me”. X’s mum provided feedback: • “Thanks to K and the service for giving my daughter such a great day out. Things have been very hard for the family, and it is such a relief for me that KP can have a normal and fun day without her brother. I hope you can do many such days again. They make a difference to my daughter”. Adult Carer A has been caring for her mother with dementia for the past few years. She has only recently started to receive carer support as she did not identify herself as a carer or requiring help. The online social event enabled her to meet other carers and share their common experience. This helped reduce-her isolation and has encouraged her to reach out to other carers and our Service. Carer A provided the following feedback: • “I was apprehensive about joining in the tea but so glad that I did and enjoyed the treat, it was lovely, especially talking with others who could relate to my situation was great. I also came away with a few tips from carers who are travelling the same journey. Afterwards I felt, spoiled and more so that someone was thinking and caring about the constant giving out that’s required of a carer. Can’t thank those involved enough, very much appreciated”.
Carers will be better connected with each other and have knowledge of supportive resources in their area. They will have learnt new skills and be further engaged in the Quarriers Aberdeenshire Carer Service.
The young carer events enabled young people to spend time with their workers from the Aberdeenshire Carer Service in an informal and fun environment. This helped strengthen relationships with the Service and our staff. The young carers enjoyed their experiences, and some will be able to access them in future with their families. Wellbeing boxes were also provided to offer some respite from their roles and encourage the young carers to recognise the need to have time away from their role. The dementia carer event enabled carers to meet virtually with other carers and to re-connect with our Service. Including delivery of a high tea helped make the event feel more social and enabled our Service to demonstrate to the carer how we recognise their contribution and value of the support they give to their cared for in very challenging circumstances. The dementia carers benefited from advice from Alzheimer’s Scotland and are now aware of the support they offer.
X is a 16-year-old young carer who was referred to our Service in April 2020 by his secondary school. His background was described as: X is vulnerable, and he can have issues with memory. He sees his natural father every 2 weeks. He is very worried about his mum and thinks she is at risk of dying. His mum is now in another relationship, and they have 2 young children. Mum has had issues with drug use in the past. She is struggling to walk following at least one stroke and a difficult childbirth. X provides support for his mum and younger siblings. He helps mum with household chores. He also looks after his brother and sister and plays with them to entertain them. Sometimes X goes to the shop to buy food. The family did not want him to attend the young carer group that is run by the school because of the fear of Social Services finding out the family circumstances but were happy for him to engage with Aberdeenshire Carers Support Service. The perception of the family was that services would report them to Social Services; however, our Carers Support Worker was able to alleviate their fears and offer them the support that they needed. X was only able to attend the activity day as his worker, who has built up a relationship with him and the family, was able to transport him as the family do not have any transport. X informed us that he really enjoyed the activities and was able to overcome his fears. A Lochter Activity Centre staff member took a lot of time with him on the climbing wall to encourage him to continue the climb. X stated: • “I never thought I could do it. I was scared. But C said he knew I could do it and I did. I had the best day ever.”
Carers will have increased circles of support.
The young carer events enabled our young people living in different areas of Aberdeenshire to connect with each other and form friendships. The dementia carer events enabled carers throughout Aberdeenshire to come together in the online format. This has helped facilitate peer support amongst the carers and provided access to Alzheimer’s Scotland who provided 2 staff members to join in with the events.
Z referred to Service by his school just 2 months before his cared for, his stepdad, died. The caring role had taken its toll on him, and he was in need of some respite and fun. He informed us that following the death of his stepdad it was really good to have some fun outside the house where he could still receive the support from our Service. The continued contact with the family enabled our Carer Support Worker to also signpost mum to further tailored services for both herself and her son. Mum was signposted to Cruse Bereavement Counselling for her own needs and to Sunrise Partnership for her son, for young person bereavement counselling. They were also directed towards Citizens Advice Bureau for financial advice following the changes in circumstances. Mum gave the following feedback: • “Thanks so much for taking my son to a fun day. The past year has been so difficult for all of us but to know we can have support in the future makes such a difference to all of us”. Z stated: • “I learnt to do Archery. It was fun. I beat L and feel great. I will do it again. Thanks”.
Additional project outcome
The project enabled 3 young carers previously supported by our Service to develop in the role of volunteer Young Carer Mentor’s.
Prior to the Rainbow Days project 2 of the young volunteers had felt restricted with the lockdown measures and lack of social contact. Attending the events increased their confidence and connections with the Service and gave them the opportunity to develop their skills as volunteers. The young people related very well to them as they are closer to their age and have lived experience as young carers. Feedback from a young carer: • “I like L- (volunteer)- he is cool. I hope he comes again.” A new worker will be joining the Service December 2021 to further develop the volunteer roles of Young Carer Mentors.