Short Break Fund
A story by PRT Lanarkshire Carers Centre
We provided grants directly to carers who live in North Lanarkshire
What Short Break Fund did
The applicant completes a grant funding form with assistance from their local carers support worker who ensures they meet the eligibility criteria and signs the application to confirm that the carer is in a current caring role and would benefit from a short break. Each locality has an allocation based on the number of carers and the CSW monitiors this budget.
There has been flexibility in relation to this to ensure that the fund is fully uitilised and responsive to current carer needs. A panel consisting of the manager and the chairperson of PRT Lanarkshire Carers Centre (who herself is a carer) along with a representative from North Lanarkshire Carers Together and a representative from North Lanarkshire Council are on the panel for applications. Applications are considered on a monthly basis and grant awards made.
Funding was advertised via carers support groups which take place on a regular basis within each locality. It was also advertised in the newsletter that is sent to all carers on our mailing list. It was discussed at the Annual General Meeting, which carers attended. It was also advertised through Facebook and our website.
Both carer and husband had a lovely break, enjoying having their meals cooked and served to them as well as spending time with each other. The carer has found that there has been some deterioration in her health due to the impact of caring for her sister.
The carer felt the benefit of having a break from her caring role and commented that although she was away and knew her sister was being cared for by others she would be able to continue in her role as a carer without feeling so exhausted.
The carer put support in place for her daughter and the whole family had a fantastic time at the wedding and when her daughter left the reception to stay with her older sibling the newly wedded couple had "special quality time together which finished off a special day allowing me to forget my caring duties for one night and achieving happiness, joy and excitement at becoming Mrs XXX."
The carer was encouraged, through the carer support worker, to apply for the Creative Breaks - Time to Live fund to help with the cost of a holiday abroad.
The holiday party consisted of the carer, the cared-for as well as the carer's sister and brother-in-law and the destination was Santa Ponsa which was a familiar holiday destination for the family, as they had been there countless times in the past. The carer felt that the fact her sister and brother-in-law were there, that the place was familiar and that there were family members with them that she would not have to spend all the time caring for her husband because the family members said they would help out.
The holiday was a huge success as the carer really benefited from a break in the sun, as well as her sister and brother-in-law helping her husband which meant that she had some time to herself. Her husband enjoyed the holiday immensely as the destination was familiar, he has a really good relationship with his in-laws and he also enjoyed the sun. Both came back from the holiday energised and the carer felt that she could carry on with her caring role as she felt less stressed, both mentally and physically. The carer said, "the chance to relax and the benefit of the support and respite I received meant that I was able to re-charge my batteries."
What PRT Lanarkshire Carers Centre has learnedThe Creative Breaks - Time to Live fund provided a valuable resource to carers in North Lanarkshire and enabled Carers Support Workers to offer this as part of a package of support provided to carers they are working with. It provided a fund that was able to quickly respond to carers' needs when required and avoid long delays. Many of the awards were in response to caring roles that had reached a crisis point and enabled carers to carry on caring whilst looking after their own health and wellbeing.
Often the awards addressed the feeling of isolation felt by carers with a regular and substantial caring role as well as recognising the significant financial impact that some carers face. The fund provided support for five Black Minority Ethnic carers to have a break, each situation was different in that in one case the break was for the carer only and in the others it was family breaks.
Again, the type of short break varied, two were holidays and three were to visit family members. In all cases every carer said that the break helped them to continue in their caring role after they returned. This has been a new development as BME carers have not previously requested financial assistance.
PRT Lanarkshire Carers Centre has recently gone through a staffing change as the previous Manager who was in post for 19 years retired and a new Manager is now in place. Also, the organisation now has a new short break carers information service with a new development worker. At the point of reporting, the Creative Breaks - Time to Live fund is being overseen by two new employees and both feel that the criteria has to be further developed, especially as the new fund awarded is larger and covers a bigger geographical area. The panel will be expanded to include more partners and a scoring framework will be agreed. We will build on and learn from the experience to date to further develop this work.
The advertising of the Creative Breaks - Time to Live fund has encouraged new carers to telephone the centre, the outcome of which is an introduction to the centre and the carer support worker in their locality. This has meant that new carers have come on board and participate in the services that are currently on offer from PRT Lanarkshire Carers Centre and this new award will enable us to further build on this work.
We are working with partner organisations to ensure that the fund is appropriately targeted and allocated and carers support workers will play a key role in identifying those less likely to ask for support.