South Asian Carers of Older People's Respite Support Group
A story by Milan Senior Welfare Organisation
Milan provided a fortnightly Carer Support Group for carers of older people. Carers meet in a calm environment where they had some quality time for themselves outwith their pressurising roles and had the opportunity to meet others in the same situation.
What South Asian Carers of Older People's Respite Support Group did
Carers participated in regular meetings, where they gained information/advice sessions and enhanced their knowledge about various health matters and healthy eating as well as cooking classes. Carers also participated in training sessions which included, First Aid, Manual Handling, Food and Hygiene, Understanding Dementia and Communication skills.
We also delivered various exercise sessions: yoga and dance exercise classes and outings. We recruited one volunteer for this project who is now also working at Milan day care services. The carer support group is promoted through our newsletter, word of mouth at the day care provision, and through advertisement at various places of worship and other community groups.
An assessment is carried out for each member so that we ensure that they receive all the support they are entitled to or are sign posted to other organisations that might be able to further support them. Carers gained various skills and were awarded with certificates for the training sessions they undertook, this has helped them to gain employment and gain the confidence to do things outwith their caring roles.
Having an active programme of exercise promotes health and well being and carers feel re-energised and stress free which also has a positive impact on the cared for person. Having even a short time of organised quality time for themselves in a supported environment provides opportunities not otherwise available to carers from South Asian communities.
Carers enjoyed the varied programme of exercise, cooking classes and healthy eating talks. The training provided a valuable source of skills and carers felt more confident and more aware of responsibilities within their caring role through the manual handling course. Activities and meetings took place at Norton Park for 2 hours each fortnight and training sessions were half day of up to 4 hours per session. Various trips were organised for carers to Dr O'Neils secret garden, botanical gardens and a trip to Glasgow.
Once this had been dealt with, and she was financially better off, we worked with her to gain her confidence to do things for herself, especially to gain new skills which would benefit her in the long run. The carer within time, enjoyed the activities, took part in the training sessions and looked forward to regular meetings and having some time out for herself. By receiving the correct support at the right time, she regained her self esteem, built her confidence and started feeling better within herself and could face the challenges ahead. She felt she could talk in the support group without being judged.
She thoroughly enjoyed getting some time out for herself and said that she had forgotten what it was like to enjoy her self. She was able to go home refreshed and energetic to deal with her caring responsibilities at home and this has positive impacts on both her health and the cared for person's health. Even a short time away can make such a big difference in peoples lives and well being.
Her mother in law was currently in hospital and we ensured that a culturally appropriate care package was in place when she was discharged that would meet the families needs. The carer joined the support group and took part in the manual handling and dementia training sessions for peace of mind that she was handling things right and recognising the needs of the person she cares for.
What Milan Senior Welfare Organisation has learnedThis funding has enabled us to deliver a much needed carer support group, which keeps us in touch with the needs of the carers and help to make a difference to the challenges and difficulties they face.
South Asian Carers are less likely to ask for support as they feel it is culturally right to support and look after their elders, but this can be difficult and an impossible task without the appropriate help and support from the relevant authorities. We try to reach out to as many carers as possible so that we can provide them with up to date information and support on care packages, SDS payments, culturally appropriate hospital discharge packages, correct entitlements and a support group for them to have some quality time for themselves.
As our work is getting more recognised, we receive a lot of referrals from word of mouth. Carers need to feel valued and respected for all the hard work and efforts they put in to their caring roles. Through the support group they are provided with opportunities to talk and discuss issues effecting them and how caring has an impact on their daily lives. South Asian carers have limited time for themselves, due to busy lives with the person they care for, young families and some having to help with family businesses. Two hours per fortnight is well suited to them and encourages regular attendance.
We found that carers that attend the group all request regular day trips, if we give them plenty of advance notice, they are able to get someone else to look after the person they care for and have a much needed trip which is therapeutic, relaxing and positive impacts on their well being. Keeping this in mind, we are seeking further funding for day trips.