Short Breaks for Adult Carers in Falkirk District & Clackmannanshire
A story by Falkirk & Clackmannanshire Carers Centre
We provided grants directly to carers who live in Falkirk District and Clackmannanshire.
What Short Breaks for Adult Carers in Falkirk District & Clackmannanshire did
105 awards of up to £300 were made to individual carers in Falkirk and Clackmannanshire for a flexible break of their choosing.
The funding was promoted through our newsletter, on our website and through local organisations and agencies including Community Care Teams, Health Centres and local Third Sector Organisations.
Carers were invited to complete a Creative Breaks application form with assistance from a Carers Support Worker if required. Applications were submitted in batches for consideration every 6 weeks by a panel consisting of a Board Member, a representative from Social Work and a representative from the Carers Centre staff.
Grant recipients were required to submit receipts following their break and to complete a short evaluation questionnaire which included questions on the difference the award had made to them and the cared for person. This information was collated and used to evaluate and report on the project.
Ruth had originally applied for funding for pampering sessions because, as she said in her original application, ‘James’s health issues mean it is impossible for us to take a holiday’. However meanwhile unknown to Ruth, her daughter had been trying to arrange transport for Ruth and James to go away as Ruth had always said that it was transport that prevented them from getting away anywhere. Her daughter’s partner hired a wheelchair adapted bus and drove the family to Centre Parcs for a 4-night break.
Ruth wrote a full page account of her break on her return, describing it as her ‘lovely break that I could only have dreamt of before’. She said: ‘I loved it so much that I feel I could do it again and I am even thinking of taking James away on our own….. We were able to have a lovely holiday with some of my family which I think has helped me a lot as I felt guilty not taking James away on holiday.
My spirits were well and truly lifted. Thank you so much for enabling us to have an absolutely brilliant break with this grant. Centre Parcs was ideal as you don’t need transport once there. We had ramped access to the lodge….It was wonderful to be away with James and the family, going out for meals together and I even went to the swimming pool! First time in 26 years!’
Other carers told us:
‘I laughed so much more than I’ve done for 3 years’
‘I could enjoy time with my husband without stress…It made him calmer and less stressed.’
‘The person I care for had no self-confidence but when we were on a break he gained confidence, he smiled more, he talked more and he was a happier person’.
‘Purchasing a dog has been life changing on both our wellbeing. I have found (cared for person) more responsive and interested in day to day things. He spends hours now interacting with the dog, Midge. Sincere thanks. Complete turnaround.’
‘I am so grateful to have received the CB Fund. From the moment of receiving it we had our mood lifted as we had something to look forward to’.
Prior to making an application to the fund, Paul had started taking his son ‘out on adventures’ at the weekend – hill walking, exploring old ruins, etc and had found this to be hugely valuable to both of them and it also allowed his wife, Jane, to have some quiet time at home with family support close by if required.
Paul applied for funding towards buying a canoe so that he could enjoy time out and further ‘adventures’ with his son. He felt it would be a great way to get a break and that it could be something that would be sustainable in the long term, as well as being flexible – he could go off when he knew that his wife would be able to be left, or if she needed some time on her own.
In his application, he said: ‘I would get a huge benefit from being outdoors. My recent trips out with Adam have felt like a wee bit of escapism and have been very relaxing and brought some much-needed stress relief. I feel that being outdoors makes me feel more motivated and energised!’
After his first trip – exploring some islands on the River Forth – Paul said in his evaluation: ‘This experience made me feel significantly less stress at quite a challenging time (though it was only 6 hours). I was notably more positive and motivated following this experience and I am very much looking forward to the next time I can get out. I plan to take my young son next time which gives my wife some much needed time on her own. In this sense, every member of my family can benefit from this. Many thanks for this as it would not have happened without the Creative Breaks Funding’.
This award has resulted in improved health and wellbeing for all the family, has made Paul feel more able to cope with his caring role, and offers ongoing opportunities to take part in an activity which is outside his caring role – for both himself and his young son.
Other carers told us: It has ‘restored their belief in there being a life for them outside hospital appointments and caring’
‘This trip confirms that we can take a break away from home’
‘Getting the Creative Break has enabled me to make new friends as a result of my interest’
‘It gave me a chance to be a normal person for a wee while instead of just a carer 24/7’
Sarah applied for funding for a family holiday as she was struggling to cope and felt that she and the rest of the family would benefit greatly from a break.
Using their award, they were able to pay for a boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads. Afterwards Sarah said that her own physical and mental health and wellbeing had improved, resulting in her feeling less stressed, less tired and more able to cope with her caring role. Her husband’s physical and emotional health also improved as a result of the break. She also reported that their relationship improved and that she felt more confident and informed about planning future breaks.
She said: ‘We opted for a boating holiday as it gave us freedom to move from place to place easily. My husband was able to steer the boat so I was able to relax. Getting away from the usual routine for that short time has been a great help in enabling me to cope now we are back home’
Other carers told us: ‘I came home a happier person, much more rested, relaxed and feel more able to deal with our day to day life here at home.’
‘My confidence in dealing with my husband’s multiple conditions has improved’.
‘Due to….my wife’s illness and lack of mobility, we were unable to go on holiday. As it would give me a break out of the house, I bought a hut so that I could pursue my DIY hobbies which has helped me to relax and carry on caring’
‘I was more relaxed when I returned and was able to cope better with my husband’.
What Falkirk & Clackmannanshire Carers Centre has learnedFunding this year has further reinforced our understanding of the benefits that a break, often costing a relatively small amount, can make to the wellbeing of the carer and the sustainability of the caring role. Comments and feedback from carers has provided the evidence for this. The flexibility of this funding means that the carer can find a way of taking a break that fits in with their circumstances when conventional breaks are not possible.
An award can often mean that carers are encouraged to try something that they would not normally try and, if successful, they will prioritise this activity or break going forward, finding other ways to fund it. In some cases the award is used to purchase something which will have ongoing benefits for the carer and the cared-for person. In this way, the benefits of the funding have a sustainable impact.
Being able to offer this funding to carers has often helped us as an organisation that supports carers to develop our relationship with carers, particularly those who are new to our service. Often carers who are reluctant to engage with services or accept support from elsewhere will decide to pursue this avenue as it is relatively unobtrusive and leaves the carer with control over when, where and what type of break will be of most benefit to them.
The act of completing the application form with the carer is supportive in itself, facilitating a conversation about the carer's role and circumstances and the challenges they are facing. Often, this conversation and the contact with the Carer Support Worker will lead to further support being made available through the Carers Centre, or through signposting to other organisations.
As a result of our experience in managing the local Time to Live project, our organisation has been awarded an additional £26,000 from our local Integrated Care Fund to top up our current Time to Live funding to be used to benefit carers of all ages in Falkirk District.
Whilst we are delighted to be able to continue to offer this support to local carers, a challenge as always is the level of staff resources required for the management, promotion, administration, monitoring and reporting of the funding.