Short Breaks for Adult Carers in Falkirk District & Clackmannanshire
A story by Central Carers Association
We provided grants directly to carers who live in Falkirk District or Clackmannanshire.
What Short Breaks for Adult Carers in Falkirk District & Clackmannanshire did
Modified application form, guidance notes, publicity leaflet and other documentation for new funding, taking account of feedback on process/paperwork from previous round of funding from carers, carer support workers and panel members, set up recording and monitoring systems for allocation of funding, established panel made up of one member of the Board (who is also a former carer), one representative from Social Work and one representative from the Carers Centre and set six-weekly panel dates for the year.
Publicised funding as widely as possible though our website and newsletter which is distributed to local GP practices, libraries, hospitals, community care teams, local third sector organisations etc. Also distributed information by email through local CVS mailing distribution lists, carer support workers publicised the fund to carers contacting our service and helped carers to complete application forms where required.
Applications were considered by the panel though out the year and awards made to successful applicants, with a condition that receipts and a completed evaluation form be submitted following the break information from applications and evaluations was collated on an ongoing basis to assist with monitoring and reporting.
Sarah and Peter were unable to get away for a break because of Peter's condition but Sarah used her £300 award to purchase rail cards and train tickets for her parents to visit more often to help her and to support her husband as well as providing company for him while she was at work and the children were at school. The children also benefited from more contact with their grandparents and from the additional support to the family.
Sarah has said: "In purchasing the railcards for my parents it has enabled them to come over a lot more to help myself and Peter to ease stress levels and ease Peter's loneliness.", "We were unable to get away for a break due to Peter's condition but we went together to see Top Gear live which was very enjoyable and we had a lovely day. My mental health improved and it made me very happy to see Peter so happy. Thank you for granting us this award. I has made our lives much easier'.
Marie identified that she needed a break saying that she was 'physically and mentally exhausted'. She was grieving for her son as well as caring for her mother.
Marie used her award for a 7 night break at a hotel in Blackpool. On her return, Marie indicated that: her physical, mental and emotional health had improved; she felt better able to cope with her caring role; she felt more able to pursue a life outside her caring role; her relationship with her mother and other family members improved; and she felt better informed and more confident about planning and organising future breaks.
In her own words, Marie said, "I felt much better able to cope with my mother on my return from the break. I felt like 'me' again". "The break also gave my brother (who was caring for our mother in my absence) a better understanding of what I do on a daily basis. The break gave me a much needed change from the stress of daily life and was very much appreciated. I was able to come back and care for my mother with renewed zest'.
Fiona now uses any spare money she has, for example, Birthday money, to continue with reflexology and other therapies and is now accessing other support through the Carers Centre, for example, training for carers on 'Memory Loss' which is relevant to her caring role. She says that she is more aware of her own health needs now and acts on them.
As a result of this funding, Fiona has found ways of relaxing and enjoying a break/activities outside her caring role which she can now enjoy and benefit from on an ongoing basis.
What Central Carers Association has learnedThroughout several years of funding for our Time to Live Project, we have learned more about the extent of the benefits to carers of a break, particularly one that has been tailored to meet their needs. Often this may involve a break which includes the person they are caring for, but a change of scene and having meals prepared can be hugely beneficial to both the carer and the cared for person, improving their respective health and wellbeing, improving relationships and helping to sustain the caring role.
Not only have we have been surprised by the extent of the benefits that are being reported by carers of all types of breaks but also the variety of uses for this type of funding to suit the needs of individual carers, giving them a chance to enjoy a life outside of their caring role and making them feel more confident about caring and less stressed as a result. Alternative therapies, guitar lessons, garden sheds, bikes and cinema passes are just some examples of how this funding can be used to effect longer term benefits for the carer and the person being cared for.
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.