The Beacon Club
A story by Space @ the Broomhouse Hub
The Beacon Club supports individuals living with Dementia and those who are socially isolated to attend our day clubs at Broomhouse Hub and Tron Kirk. Our members engage in a day full of fun activities which improves quality of life whilst giving valued respite to their carer.
What The Beacon Club did
Members each day were picked up in a community transport bus supported by a member of our team as an escort. Upon arrival at the club they are provided with a snack & hot drink before we have a selection of morning activities. Across the year, these have included seated yoga, Art & cooking classes, entertainers, singers and magicians and outings to parks, barge trips and the theatre.
A freshly cooked 2 course lunch is then provided followed by an afternoon of further activities, including games, quizzes & reminiscence. Following this our members are again safely transported home, escorted on the bus by a member of our team and seen safely to their door. During the days that their cared-for person attends the club, carers are able to have a break that day of around 5 or 6 hours.
At the end of each day, all carers received an update via email about the day at the club alongside any specific updates related to their cared-for person. This not only means they can share in the experiences our members have had but also gives peace of mind that they will be kept informed of anything noteworthy – whether positive or more of a concern.
Throughout the year, our members have been involved in the planning and delivery of the service – from being asked about possible future trips and daily activities to being consulted over the types of menu they would like to see when they come to the club – we ensure that their experiences. This gives our members a strong sense of involvement in the club - it's theirs and not just something they come to.
We have engaged our staff and volunteers with ongoing training opportunities to strengthen their skills and knowledge base to allow them to better support our members and their carers – with some training being more practically focused on the day to day such as passenger escort training and other allowing for greater support with specific issues such as bereavement support training from Cruse.
New members are predominantly referred through a variety of Health and Social Care sources such as GPs, social workers and Community Link Workers. Though often it can be that they are referred directly via their carers.
What Space @ the Broomhouse Hub has learned
We have learned new ways in which to engage our members in the development of our activities - in terms of how to encourage them to feel confident in making suggestions and help us bring them to fruition when so many are used to services that are done to them rather than done with them. It gives individuals a real sense of purpose to be involved in these kinds of decisions but often if you put people on the spot it can feel like staring at a blank page paralysing. We seek to work with our members when asking these questions - not to influence their decision making but to embolden them to make those suggestions and engage with planning the service.
For carers we know that this has an impact - a number of carers have told us that their cared-for person has subsequently become more re-engaged in their day to day life in terms of being active where they can or looking to engage, where previously this may have not been happening. We know that this reduces stress on carers of feeling they have to be the driver of activity in their relationship with their cared-for person.
How Space @ the Broomhouse Hub has benefitted from the funding
The funding from creative breaks has allowed us to continue with our service expansion and allowed us to provide further opportunities for carers and members to improve their quality of life.
We will provide accessible short break activities for 70 carers by offering 5 days of services in two locations (Broomhouse Hub and Tron Kirk Gilmerton) for 70 cared for older people with dementia
Throughout the year we offered 70 places to cared-for older people living with dementia or suffering from social isolation. This gave their carers a regular weekly opportunity to engage with activities outside their caring role, knowing that their care-for person was not only safe but also actively enjoying the time too and meeting and connecting with other members.
Maxine got in touch with us as both she and her mother, Sheila, were experiencing difficulties in caring for her father, Ronald, who had a recent dementia diagnosis. Ronald couldn't engage in activities that he used to enjoy and felt down because of this as well as the impact on Sheila as she didn't feel comfortable leaving Ronald which he felt was limiting her ability to enjoy life. Ronald was initially unsure about coming to the Beacon Club, he felt it was more for people further along their dementia journey than him and he worried that he wouldn't connect with other members. With a bit of reassurance from our team and both Maxine and Sheila, he gave it a go and is now one of our most enthusiastic members! Maxine said to us that Ronald talks about his days at the club with huge enthusiasm not just upon his return but often for days afterwards. For Sheila it has given her the space to do things that she enjoys and meet up with her friends again. This is something Maxine has said is invaluable for her too as it means she can worry less about both of them. She also thinks that Sheila might even enjoy the days Ronald comes to the club more than Ronald himself!
Carers they will tell us they have been able to access short break activities that has made them feel less isolated, connected and supported
In our annual survey 97% of carers surveyed told us that their cared-for person attending the Beacon Club made them felt more supported and better able to continue in their caring role. Many of the carers of our members have told us that alongside their cared-for person being less isolated and more socially connected by attending the club, it has done the same for them by allowing them space outside their caring role to engage with others and be active on their own terms again. One carer told us, "I feel like for that day a week, I'm myself again" Alongside this, carers have said that they know that if they need additional support they can come to the team of the Beacon Club for advice or assistance, whether that is for additional support directly, or for signposting to other appropriate services. One carer told us, "I know if I had to discuss Mum or needed some guidance, I could contact the Beacon Club and speak openly and receive honest and confidential advice that I can trust"
Joseph has been the main carer for his wife, Geraldine, for a number of years as she has had mobility issues for a number of years. Geraldine was diagnosed with dementia over 4 years ago but Joseph had been keen to care for her himself and wasn't looking for the kind of support that somewhere like the Beacon Club could provide. However, the pandemic had taken its toll and so in late 2022 he got in touch to enquire about whether we had any spaces to allow Geraldine to attend as he felt completely drained and longed for some time to spend on himself. Joseph initially found it difficult to know what to do with his time and told us that for the first couple of weeks that Geraldine attended he just sat in the house waiting for her to return. However, once he began to see the positive impact that attending the club was having on Geraldine, he began to look for ways that he could use that break from his caring role to reconnect with his local community. Initially part of that involved meeting with his friends for a half pint and a game of dominoes at the pub but he has also taken the opportunity to be a bit more active and started going for walks locally when weather permits. Joseph has told us that he feels like both he and Geraldine are "a lot more vibrant" than they were when he first got in touch and he feels that the support for them both is "a lifesaver".
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.
In our annual survey all of the carers who responded told us that they strongly agreed that having their cared-for person attending the Beacon Club had made them feel happier and contributed to them having a better quality of life. One carer told us, "I know if I had to discuss Mum or needed some guidance, I could contact the Beacon Club and speak openly and receive honest and confidential advice that I can trust" Similarly, in our survey of our members, the feedback we received was hugely positive. 100% of the members who completed the survey said it made them happier and improved their quality of life. Many told us it had improved their confidence and spoke of the huge difference the social connections they had made, with one member telling us, "I have made so many new friends since I started which at my age after my diagnosis, I didn't think would happen"
Patricia lives alone and had become more and more isolated and withdrawn due to a number of health issues that had affected her confidence in leaving the house over the course of a number of years. When she was then given a diagnosis of dementia, her daughter Rona was worried that this would isolate Patricia further and that she wouldn't even pop round to her next door neighbour's anymore, which was often the only social contact that Patricia had during the week. Patricia's GP referred her to the Beacon Club and she has become a much loved and valued member of our group. Over her time at the Beacon Club she has become much more engaged and although she is still a quiet lady she has a wicked sense of humour and will often have everyone laughing with a quip about the goings on of the day. Patricia has told us that she feels the club "has made me have a purpose after a lonely period in my life" and her daughter has said she has seen a real difference in her mum, even on days when she hasn't attended the club. For Rona too, this has greatly improved her own wellbeing - she told us, "caring for Mum will never be without its challenges, but to see how much she enjoys the Beacon Club and how much better I feel knowing she's getting that social connection has been invaluable to me".