Short Break Funding for People with Dementia and Their Carers
A story by Alzheimer Scotland
We provided grants directly to carers who live in Scotland and are caring for someone with a diagnosis of dementia.
What Short Break Funding for People with Dementia and Their Carers did
We successfully provided direct funding for 83 breaks for people with dementia and their carers in 24 local authority areas. The fund was available to all carers living in Scotland, who cared for a person(s) with a diagnosis of dementia, with the aim of giving them time for a break.
All carers who met the criteria were asked to fill in a two page application form telling us about why they needed the break and what they intended to do with any funding received. We created clear guidance in plain English for both the referrer and applicant to help create good applications and we did not means test the applicants. We did ask for a referrer to confirm the carer status, as many carers have now started to apply directly to the fund and are not users of or known to local services. Application forms were acknowledged and heard at regular panels held throughout the funding period. Any incomplete applications were contacted prior to the panel to make sure we had all the information we needed.
The panel met every 4-6 weeks and was made up of people who represented a staff member, a carer and a person with dementia. These panels considered all applications made from in that period. Most funding was given in full, with a minority of breaks being adjusted to allow for true cost of the break applied for. Funding was paid mostly directly to carers to arrange their own breaks.
The funding was advertised on our website and other relevant websites. We also produced a flyer which gave information about the funding. Key to promotion was talking to local carer centre's and groups, to allow us to reach carers not using local services. Identifying key people to promote this funding in areas which we found hard to reach was vital. We gathered together information that would be helpful to people to arrange their breaks and gave people time to discuss how they would use the funding. For the next funding period this has become a 'What is a Short Break' guide, giving people ideas to be creative.
What Alzheimer Scotland has learnedIt was anticipated that most of the breaks would be the carer going away on their own, when in fact the main aim of the break was to get away together for most applicants. This figure has risen to nearly two thirds of the breaks we funded in the last funding year and we expect this to be similar in any future years we get funding.
People found it hard to visualize what a short break meant and this has led us to write a separate (one page in clear language) guidance to clarify what a short break is and we have used this as an opportunity to introduce the concept of Self-directed Support, as many people were asking about this after their breaks.
We had to totally re-write our Referrer Guidance, as so many of the referrers are no longer staff working for our organisation, due to promotion with relevant others working with carers in local communities. Also we had to create a straight forward Applicant guidance sheet (one page) as so many carers had heard about the fund from 'word of mouth' or did not want to go through a statutory agency, preferring to come to us directly.
We have found that the way we have attracted most hard to reach carers has been through getting local key people informed about the funding and they talk to people they meet. Flyers did not meet the needs of people who needed to know how important this funding could be to them. Being able to access the depth and breadth of the various breaks already taken and sharing these stories has inspired both individual carers and those working with carers in their local communities to create breaks.