Short Breaks Project
A story by Homelands Trust Fife
We provided complementary therapy sessions for unpaid carers and those being cared for, with up to 4 complementary therapy sessions each.
To be eligible carers had to reside with the person they care for and vice- versa. Each session lasted for an hour in total.
What Short Breaks Project did
During the year we worked with therapists to provide free complementary therapies for disabled people and their carers. Both were entitled to up to 4 therapy sessions each. The therapies allowed them to be able to de-stress and enjoy a short respite break, either together or individually in a peaceful setting. They could also sit and have a coffee while looking at the stunning view and take a break from their daily routine.
The therapies were held in our therapy rooms at the Paxton Centre. We had several therapists who offered a wide range of therapies to suit everyone’s needs. We have managed to provide the therapies on a range of days and times to enable us to include as many people as possible who wanted to participate. The therapies included Reiki, reflexology, various types of massage, Source Star, The Bowen Technique, and Diamond light healing.
We raised awareness by getting as much reach as we possibly could by advertising the therapies on local radio stations and local newspapers and our Facebook page. We sent out posters and information on a regular basis to the Community nurses, GP practices and 3rd Sector/Charity organisations e.g. PAMIS, Fife Carers Centre, FVA bulletin and other relevant carer organisations. We also used word of mouth and contacts. We focused on carer groups as these were the people we were trying to target.
The project was managed by the Homelands team and volunteers at the Paxton Centre. They managed and recorded bookings, produced marketing materials, monitoring and evaluation, liaised with the clients, reminded them of their upcoming appointments, etc., as well as greeting clients, therapy rooms set-up and making sure refreshments were available for the clients.
I am very busy caring for my husband who has dementia. I am very involved in all aspects of his care. I was very stressed and finding it hard to cope. I was very tired all of the time and feeling very low.
The treatments allowed me time to relax and not have to think about problems with my husband, my daughter and grandson. I found the treatments very relaxing and enjoyable and they have helped my mental and emotional well-being. They have also given me the opportunity to enjoy a time for myself outside of my caring role.
I now feel better supported and I am able to cope better. I now understand that a short break for one hour a week can make a difference to my life and give me the opportunity to enjoy time away from my caring role. I will now make time to have some complementary therapy treatments on a regular basis. “The therapies have become very important to me and to my mental and emotional wellbeing.”
I’m a carer. The therapies I had were spread out over a few months. Each time it came just when I needed some TLC. I was generally feeling quite stressed and physically exhausted. Having some time for me was much appreciated, time I would probably not have taken if I had not been offered the therapies.
The feeling afterwards was always of calm. I now have regular therapy, something I have always struggled to arrange and fit in. I now realise the importance of taking time out, albeit only for an hour at a time. I’m aware of how difficult it can be for some carers to arrange cover, even just for an hour. I feel more supported in my role as a carer and know now there are organisations who can help me to have some me time. I know this is important for my well-being as a carer.
I’m a carer and our house is a stressful house, which can cause me a lot of anxiety. I find it difficult to relax and find time for myself. I am very rarely away from my role as a carer. Having time away for myself was amazing and it has been extremely worthwhile taking the opportunity to have the therapies. “The short time away from home improved my mental health and allowed me to breathe and to be myself.”
I could relax and think about myself and put my worries aside, (well at least for a short time). I have found that the therapies are a coping mechanism and one that I really need. I realise now that even a short break for one hour away from my caring role has a big impact on my wellbeing. It is an opportunity for me to enjoy some time to myself outside of my caring role. The therapies have helped to support me during a difficult time.
What Homelands Trust Fife has learnedAs the project progressed into summer we found it increasingly difficult to attract more carers/cared for people to take up the therapies. We learned part of the issue was the time of year. It was difficult for people to commit during the summer due to school holidays, family holidays, child care etc. This was a challenge for us but we managed to overcome it by working hard to fill our therapies with a renewed advertising campaign. We managed to get back on target. We easily filled up our remaining therapies for the autumn. At the end of the project we could have filled more therapies slots if we had them.
The lesson we have learned from this experience is the summer months are not an ideal time to run the therapies. We have found the autumn to the beginning of summer is the best time and we will bear this in mind for the future if we are taking on a project like this again.
We attracted new carers to our project from another project we were running in the first half of the year. These carers were not on our existing lists and they had not been informed by any other organisation about the therapies. These carers were the kind of carers we were trying to target. This year we ran a project called ‘A Break by the Sea’ and it involved free short breaks for carers and cared for persons in Fife.
In a pack provided for the carers and cared for person during their visit, we enclosed information about our complementary therapy project. We provided information about therapies, eligibility, time slots and also information about the therapies available. We were successful in getting some of the carers who visited for the short breaks to participate and avail of the therapies on offer. The therapies helped them to de-stress and many of the carers and cared for came back for their three further treatments at a later date.
The carers discovered the benefits of complementary therapy and how it can reduce tension and increase energy levels and improve sleep patterns and generally restore the body’s natural equilibrium. They were then able to enjoy another type of short respite break either together or individually. They discovered another way to manage their own health and wellbeing and the benefits of having short respite sessions on a regular basis.
We learned from this experience that there are a lot of carers out there who do not look for the help and support they are entitled to. Some of them are not getting all the support and help they need. Short breaks like having the therapies can help reassure them that someone cares and is looking out for them. We had very positive feedback about the therapies and their benefits as a short respite break. Carers felt better supported to sustain their caring role and more aware of sources of help.They felt their sense of wellbeing had improved.
The unexpected benefit to Homeland by running the project are it has helped create greater awareness of Homelands and the Paxton Centre and the work we do here. People coming for therapies enjoyed our Café and facilities. They also found out about the other activities we have on at the Paxton Centre throughout the week. Some carers were also interested in the service we provide with our holiday accommodation. This was a positive if unexpected benefit to Homelands.
We learned through this experience that by providing the short breaks in the form of complementary therapies we now have more carers using our services. We have more disabled people using our services, and we now know from the feedback we have received there is a definite need to provide alternative short respite breaks for carers/cared for persons to help them feel supported and valued.
We are pleased that more people are now aware of the service we provide here at Homelands and we will take what we have learned when we are considering future projects here at Homelands.