The Beacon Club
A story by Space & Broomhouse Hub
The project supported 40 older people, and 40 adults with mild dementia to attend our day care service at The Broomhouse Hub. Each adult is offered a weekly one-day short break full of fun and activities which improves quality of life and reduces isolation whilst giving valued respite to their carer.
What The Beacon Club did
Our service started back full time on the week of the 16/08/2021 at the Broomhouse Hub. This consisted of members being pick-up between 09.00 - 10.00 by a member of staff in a community transport bus. A snack & hot drink on arrival then a selection of morning activities. Choices over the year have included, seated yoga, Art & cooking classes, entertainers, singers and magicians and outings to parks, garden centres and galleries to name a few.
A home cooked 2 course lunch is then provided followed by an afternoon of games, quizzes & reminiscence. The day concludes at 14.30 and all our members are dropped by our escort. All our beneficiaries are from the Southwest the city and have mild cognitive impartment to mild dementia and since the pandemic most are struggled with mobility issues.
Our members are referred from a variety of sources including, GP'S social workers, the homecare team & friends and families. Carers were able to have a weekly break of up to 6 hours.
Feedback for carers includes 'For Mum attending the Beacon Club has definitely helped her confidence and she is really enjoying attending her weekly visits. Mum is always a lot brighter after attending and will happily tell me about her day and what she has done / eaten etc. I think the Beacon Club is invaluable to Mum as a social place and for her is now a weekly fixture in her calendar which she looks forward to.
It gives myself respite as a carer knowing that I have a full day where mum is taken care of, and I have that time to myself. I also appreciate the communication that I have had with the staff specifically when Mum is having problems or is feeling anxious and how friendly and open everyone is. I know if I had a discuss Mum or needed some guidance, I could contact the Beacon Club and speak openly and receive honest and confidential advice with regard to her attendance or overall demeanour'.
'I have been so stressed over the last year trying to look after my dad and myself because I also have my own health problems having a Wednesday to myself to do whatever I like has been an absolute god send.
Transport was a big issue coming out of lockdown we had to look at different options available.
What Space & Broomhouse Hub has learned
What we have learned from speaking to our careers and members over the last 2 years especially, is that there is a huge need for a wide range of support services and opportunities for elderly people. If we want to keep the elderly at home, we have to offer them a range of activities they find stimulating and meaningful which in turn supports their loved ones who are caring for them. Over lockdown we offered a telephone befriending service that turned into Space Age Connections, local people completing training to offer one to one support to people with dementia.
We are offering this service to 10 local people and have a least 20 people on our waiting list a who would really benefit from this personalised service, we are at present looking for funding opportunities and partnership working. We have also linked up with new charity funding organisations to offer day-care services in other parts of the city. One of our main obstacles has been and continues to be transport and the lack of it. We have recently started a one-day service for elderly people which has been very successful, and we now have a witing list of 8 people and although none have dementia, they all have mobility issues and need transport to bring them to the club and get them home again, but we have continued transport problems although we are looking for alternatives support.
How Space & Broomhouse Hub has benefitted from the funding
The funding we received from Creative Breaks has definitely strengthened our organisations reputation. When none of the local elderly services were able to open after the pandemic the Beacon Club were able through funding from Creative Breaks for staff and transport, to offer a morning or afternoon sessions to 10 members per week. When other services in the far west of the city were unable to open again at the end of the pandemic, we could support by taking their member into our service. On the back of the services, we provide we were able to secure a proportion of funding fora new service in the Southeast of the city.
We will provide accessible short break activities for 40 carers by offering 4 days of services for 40 cared for older people with dementia. We ask carers to complete and annual survey: this year we will also include a specific section to clarify what they missed when The Beacon Club was closed.
As of the 16/08/2020 we offered carers 4 days per week, 5 hours per day giving a total of around 270 hours of respite per career per year. One of the main reasons we were able to open our service fully in Aug 2021 was because we had whole responsibility for the building, we ran our service in. This included the cleaning of the building & who was using the building we were pretty confident that following all the government guidelines and procedures we could keep our members & staff safe and offer much needed respite to our members carers. And because we were in regular contact with our members and carers, we knew how desperate they were to have some time to themselves.
Margaret 75 was referred to the Beacon Club by her local community link worker in September 2021, her husband Peter 72 who was Margarets sole career had become increasing exhausted and stressed over the preceding year as Margaret was suffering from severe sleep disturbance which was becoming increasing worse as her dementia progresses. Margaret would get up between 2-3 times per night and was becoming more confused, agitated, anxious and sometimes aggressive. This was starting to seriously affect Peter's own mental health and wellbeing. They have no close family but a couple of distant cousins who help when they could by taking Margaret out for the day so that Peter could rest. A home visit was arranged to collect all background information and to tell both Margaret and Peter about our service, they both felt this would be good for Margaret as before the Pandemic Margaret had attend lots of groups and external activities and she was missing people to chat with. Margaret attended the club one day per week and settled into the group really quickly she knew one of our other members as they had both lived close to each other for a number of years. After a couple of weeks settling in Peter reported that after the club Margaret was sleeping batter and only occasionally getting up during the night. He felt she was less agitated & anxious and very much looked forward to her day with her new and old friends. After two months we had the capacity to increase Margarets club visits to twice per week and this regular pattern greatly helped with Margarets sleep pattern and agitation and give Peter more time to recharge his own battery's.
Carers will feel better supported to sustain their caring role, they will tell us they have been able to access short break activities that has made them feel less isolated, connected and supported. We will keep in contact with carers to explore what other support we can offer.
By giving carers a short break once or when required and possible twice per week carers had a regular break to have time to themself away from their caring role which was not only good for their physical health but also their mental health. Some of the Beacon Club carers were working full time and felt that when their loved one was at the club, they were able to stop worrying about them at home alone. One of our cares was really worried that her mum was forgetting to eat properly, and she know when she was at the club, she would get a good lunch and enjoy it. Over the pandemic we had regular contact with our clubs' carers offering support and advice and sometimes just somebody to talk to. This is something we have carried on for some of our carers as. Since our service came full time, we send out an email after each day letting carers know what activities their loved one were taking part in and what they had for lunch, and we share Carers information that might be usefully to them.
Following on from the previous Case Study outcome one these are Peters own words. 'Before Margaret started attending the Beacon Club, I was really struggling with day-to-day life, I was servilely sleep deprived and as this went on for months, I became more depressed and could not see any light at the end of a dark tunnel for myself and Margaret. When the community link worker suggests the Beacon Club, I jumped at the chance to have a break from my caring role but was really worried that Margaret would not settle at a club as we had been together most of the time on our own for over 2 years. I can't express my delight when she came home from that first day with stories of who she met and what she did she was so animated I was beyond excited and relieved that it had gone so well. That night Margaret only got up out of bed once and I managed to settle her very quickly back to sleep which was fantastic. Over the following weeks and months Margarets mood got so much better she went out on trips on the canal and to the beach and took part in exercise classes at the club which all helped tremendously with her general wellbeing and sleep. For my personal wellbeing and mental health at first when Margaret started attending the club I would go back to bed and sleep for a few hours, it sounds like nothing but for me it was a game changer, just to have those few extra hours meant so much to me. As Margarets sleep pattern improved I had more energy to do other things which at first meant household chores and food shopping but latterly I could arrange to meet a friend for lunch or a walk. The staff at the club recommended a local Men's Shed which I started attending this year and really enjoy, some of the men are in a similar situation to myself so it's nice to other people to talk to about my worries and concerns. The Beacon Club has been brilliant for my wife and also myself I am extremely grateful for all they do".
Carers and the people they care for will have improved wellbeing. Carers will report the benefits of getting access to short breaks: improved mental health and emotional wellbeing, less exhausted and stressed, better relationship with the cared for person.
After over two years of a pandemic any respite for carers has been well received and appreciated. People with dementia felt their symptoms deteriorate during lockdown, reporting changes in speech, memory, concentration and balance and attributed these changes to a lack of cognitive stimulation and loss of routine. "When lockdown hit, I stopped getting any kind of care package and my wife's day centre also closed. It was all left to me, and I didn’t want my wife sitting doing nothing all day so, I took it all on, getting up, cooking all the meals, all the washing and the housework, it was exhausting, and I began to feel very tired & depressed.” Being able to offer a daybreak had been invaluable for carers giving them the chance to take a breath and relax and do something that helps their own mental health and wellbeing.
We asked the Beacon Club Carers to complete a feedback survey and results are below: - 'My husband has Alzheimer's and over the past 3 years has slowly forgotten all the things we did as a couple such as bird watching, travel and hiking. We spend our time now at home and I have not been able to do some of the things I love to do because I am my husband only carer, so I have lost my friend group. When my husband started to come along to the Beacon Club, I felt like I got a little bit of my life back, I arranged to meet friends for short walks and had lunch with my girlfriends some who I hadn't seen for a couple of years it felt like a breath of fresh air to me'. 'I think for my dad being with others in the same situation has a priceless positive social experience for him. He talks about his day with such enthusiasm when he comes home and sometimes it lasts to the few next days too, he just loves it. For mum is just give her space for her to do things for herself and meet with friends. I think my mum looks forward to it more than dad". "Mum was feeling alone during the days that her family were at work before the Beacon club, this led to verbal communications from mum, stating she felt alone during the day, now that she has the Beacon Club and a Befriender each week, her days are more socially active and that helps her mental state as well as her quality of life and in turn, this allowed the family to feel that the care afforded to mum supports her condition and the very real thoughts she communicated of being lonely and isolated has been addressed and supported through activities with the Beacon Club