The Haven Breaks @ Home
A story by The Haven Caring Counselling Communication Centre
The Haven Breaks @ Home project supports and empowers carers and cared for individuals (affected by life limiting illness) to access breaks from within their own homes/Haven centres through Wellbeing activities (mindfulness/relaxation) and through creative/therapeutic resources provided.
What The Haven Breaks @ Home did
87 carers have participated in Haven activities and received resources to support them to take a break from their caring role. Short break activities were delivered to people living with a life limiting illness such as cancer/dementia (cared for) and their carers and included: Self-management wellbeing activities – clients are introduced to and guided on how to develop self-management techniques such as utilising breath work and guided visualisations which aid relaxation, stress reduction and improved wellbeing. Hands-on relaxation wellbeing activities – including aromatherapy message (hand/foot/body work), reflexology and reiki.
Wellbeing Toolkits – a range of therapeutic, creative and practical resources bespoke and tailored to the individual’s needs and interests to support wellbeing via short breaks (creative arts and crafts, relaxation and mindfulness). Toolkits also provide resources to support participation in Wellbeing Activities e.g. ‘Little Book of Breathing’ for guided visualisation and breathing sessions.
These breaks were delivered in-person from within The Haven’s three centres located in Blantyre, Wilshaw and Forth across Lanarkshire and via digital means (telephone/video calls) enabling clients to access breaks from within their own homes. These breaks were delivered and accessible Monday to Thursday between 10am and 4pm and Fridays between 10am and 1pm. Wellbeing toolkit resources were utilised by clients in their own time, within their own homes.
This project addressed Creative Breaks principles of: Mutual benefit – by providing services accessible by both carers and cared for people, either together or separately. Personalisation – by providing a programme of care and resources which is specifically tailored to each individual unique needs.
Develop knowledge and understanding– of carers and cared for people by empowering the development of self-management skills which they can utilise on their own to access and create opportunities for breaks. Develop knowledge and understanding and added value - by sharing our learning and approaches with health, social care can community partners via our share and learn events
What The Haven Caring Counselling Communication Centre has learned
There is always a need to double check that the demand for services and activities remains. The nature of grant funding is that there is a period of time between application to implementation once successful. This means that there is scope for things to change in that time period. For example, the clients currently being supported at one time period may have different identified needs/wants than the clients who will be supported during the funding project period.
This was the case for us with the no longer demand for yoga based activities. In order to most effectively support clients’ needs and make the most of the funding awarded we recognise it is best to double check the demand with current clients before implementing an activity and spending funds. This is an approach that worked well for us this year and meant that we could make a change request and implement a services that directly met the demand highlighted by our current clients.
Some of our clients have found it to be quite overwhelming to think about taking a break or identifying what that could look like for them as they “never get two minutes” to themselves. We understand that for someone who feels like they have no time at all, to find any significant time to dedicate to themselves can be very challenging. For some clients it is critical to first support carers to recognise that they need to prioritise their own wellbeing in order to be able to sustain their caring role.
Once this shift in mind set has happened many carers are then in a better place to be able to take time for themselves. We have found it to be very important and beneficial for these clients to explore small ways that breaks can be incorporated in to their days. For example, with one client we explored introducing short two minute mindful practices and relaxation techniques which were felt to be manageable for this client. This is then built upon, supporting the carer to take more, extended periods of time for themselves to utilise toolkit resources, relaxation practices and take a break.
The Haven has multiple different strands of project funding with varying outcomes and project elements to be achieved. We have learned that it is critical to have monthly service delivery and project management meetings to help ensure that all of the main points of focus are retained and that timely and accurate recording takes place. Keeping this information at the forefront of all staff members’ minds helps to ensure we deliver a successful project which successfully meets the terms and conditions and outcomes of our funding and clients’ needs.
How The Haven Caring Counselling Communication Centre has benefitted from the funding
This has been our third consecutive funding period for our Haven Breaks @ Home project. This continuing support from Creative Breaks has allowed and enabled The Haven to continue developing this service to meet clients changing needs as we have moved from the height of the pandemic to the ‘post covid’ world and now to our reintroduction of in-person based support from within our Haven centres once again. The continuity of this funding has enabled The Haven to continue what we do and to do it well, refining and developing as we go in response to client needs. In addition to the carers and their loved ones who we support, The Haven also bas a client based of bereaved individuals and individuals living with illness who do not have caring responsibilities or anyone providing care for them. The learning and evidence gathered in supporting carers to access breaks and support their wellbeing is transferrable to our other client groups – ultimately all Haven clients have a need for their wellbeing to be supported and to be able to prioritise time for themselves to support their wellbeing – and as such helps to support wider funding applications. The learning and evidence has contributed to The Haven’s successful applications to funders including Trades House of Glasgow, Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund and National Lottery Community Fund.
A minimum of 100 carers will report that they have been able to take more breaks from their caring role as a result of the Haven Breaks @ Home project. Target 1: A minimum of 50 carers receive a Wellbeing Toolkit. Target 2: A minimum of 50 carers participate in online 1:1 and group activities
80 carers received at least one Wellbeing Toolkit to help create opportunities for short breaks - directly utilising the resources or by their cared for person to use to occupy them, enabling the carer to have time to themselves. Resources provided included: relaxation books/CDs; aromastone to help recreate the relaxing environment of Haven centres; dementia friendly activity/colouring books; creative/therapeutic arts materials. I'm listening to the Lifting Your Spirits CD after being with mum all day and if I feel stressed I put it on and it helps me relax. I also do diamond art and it helps me focus and switch off after being with mum. 40 carers participated in wellbeing activities which provided them with a short break. The few sessions I've had with Wellbeing Practitioner have been beneficial and appreciated. I will continue to meditate using the pack you sent me they enjoyed coming to Centre, felt she can really let go of all her responsibilities and allow herself to relax
Background: The client is a carer for a loved one with Cancer, and she is also carer for her children who have health issues. The client herself has mental health issues spanning 18years. Her extended family are supportive, but are not in great health themselves, and the client has a good friend network, but finds they don’t really understand what she is going through. Her life is very busy, with little time for herself, constantly looking after the whole family. Initially, the client felt very vulnerable, and she felt like she was struggling with all her roles. Through Nurse Sessions the client was referred for Wellbeing Services. Intervention: Initially the client received relaxation wellbeing sessions digitally and was provided with wellbeing toolkit resources to utilise as a means to de-stress. Services then progressed to include digital Hand Massage Tutorial sessions. The appointments encouraged the client to prioritise her own self-care, enabled the client with a break from her caring role, and assisted the client to self-manage her stress with techniques that could be used at any time, including whilst in the car waiting on her dependents, whilst watching television, or even whilst waiting at hospital appointments. The client was also introduced to Mindfulness within these sessions. When The Haven Wishaw opened for In-Person appointments, the client’s Wellbeing Sessions developed into Aromatherapy Back Massage Sessions, to aid the client with her own aches and pains, mental health, and healing touch. The client was now awaiting gastrointestinal investigations for her own health, so oils were chosen to assist this client that were soothing on the digestive tract, useful in easing emotional stress, uplifting, beneficial for easing depression, and to revive and restore mental energy. Outcome: The client’s load whilst at home will naturally be heavy for the foreseeable future and the client feels that she can’t prioritise her self-care at home above her caring duties. “There’s always something to do.” “If I don’t keep going all the work will build up and cause even more stress.” However, the client liked having The Haven appointments to attend – whether digital or in-person, as this helped her prioritise her self-care. As the sessions developed and the client began coming to the Centre, she commented, “I can really let go of all my responsibilities and just fully relax”. Commenting on the room: "I don't know if it's the lighting or music, but this is just so relaxing". And commenting on the Back Massage: “Feels like you've just lifted a brick off my back….Didn't realise my back was so tense till you've relaxed it." “My back feels so much lighter now!”
A minimum of 100 carers will report being better able to cope in their caring role as a result of accessing Haven Breaks @ Home activities and support. Targets: 100 carers access Haven Breaks @ Home activities, 50 carers supported to develop self-management coping strategies
A total of 87 carers participated in activities which provided them with respite and a break from their caring role. A total of 70 carers have positive outcomes recorded of improve ability to self-manage as a result of accessing Haven support services. Client is using the relaxations 3/4 times per week to help him before bed and is finding it helps him sleep better now. Enjoys dedicating the time to himself for relaxation music, and mind set is more at peace with where his life is at just now. One specific example of improvements made by a client – in their baseline wellbeing score they rated 1 (the lowest possible score) for feeling optimistic for the future. On follow up just three weeks later, this client rated their optimism for the future as 4 (5 is the highest score).
Background: Client’s husband had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and the client is her husband’s main carer. During assessment with The Haven Nurse the client admitted to needing some quiet space, and space to recover from exhaustion. She shared that she was really struggling with anxiety and depression after her husband’s diagnosis, but was hoping that the sessions would help her relax, and bring some escapism. Intervention: The client was internally referred to The Haven Wellbeing Practitioner to access relaxation wellbeing sessions to help her to have some dedicated time for herself and to learn strategies which would help her to cope in her demanding caring role. This client accessed meditation, mindfulness and guided relaxation sessions. Outcome: The client chose not to arrange further wellbeing sessions, as she has become more confident at being able to use these techniques, toolkit items, and signposted suggestions at home to help her relax and to help give her a break from her caring role. She is listening to her body now and now feels that she has gained the techniques to be able to prioritise her self-care and give herself the time to rest and recharge. The sessions have empowered her to take the time outside of set appointments to prioritise her relaxation and meditations, in order that she is focused enough and has the emotional energy to care for her husband.
A minimum of 100 carers and 50 cared-for individuals will report being: more able to relax; less stressed and anxious; more confident as a result of participating in Haven Breaks @ Home activities.
Of the 87 carers supported during this project year, 74 have positive outcomes relating to improved wellbeing recorded. Some clients supported are at the very beginning of their programme of support with The Haven and are still working towards progress. This has really helped me as I have suffered from anxiety in the past and was afraid my circumstances were going to take me there again. You have given me ideas of coping mechanisms and ways to have time to myself. “I feel like I have a bit of hope now…I have take your advice and I’m starting to do things for me to allow me to cope in my caring role” One carer supported through this project funding, on baseline recorded a wellbeing score of 7 – this is the lowest possible score. Following four months of support and wellbeing services from The Haven this carer made a substantial improvement in their wellbeing, rising to a score of 29.3 (above average).
Background: Client initially came to The Haven, through referral from Psychology, as she was bereaved of her dad, was Carer for her mum, and had various health issues of her own. As part of her Nurse Programme, the client was offered In-Person Relaxation appointments with the Wellbeing Practitioner. She felt very overwhelmed with her Carer role at times, and was struggling to process the death of her father. Intervention: The therapies the client received included Guided Visualisations, Body Awareness Scan, and Aromatherapy Back Massage (using a blend of chamomile blue (client requested chamomile since she likes the smell), bergamot, patchouli mixed with grapeseed, for a relaxation/de-stress blend – Essential Oils were in low quantities as this was the client’s first massage with The Haven), and Aromatherapy Foot & Leg Massage (blend was changed to roman chamomile, cedarwood & sweet orange mixed with grapeseed oil, for calming, relaxing and uplifting blend and included client’s preferred oil of chamomile). Outcome: The client’s experience of her very first session was immense, in that it gave her a break from her caring role and due to this, she took some very rare time to enjoy a small shopping trip too. Another session saw the client having an emotional response to the Visualisation, after seeing her dad give her a big hug. The client felt relief afterwards, knowing that he was OK. After a few sessions, the client shared that she had bought the oils that were diffused in the Centre, to try and recreate the relaxation she experienced at The Haven at home. “I feel the sessions are helping me to cope”. She has also started listening to the LYS CD’s every day, and has been pottering in her garden. The client has been building upon her self-care after every session, and has treated herself to a rocking chair to add to her “Haven” area at home. She is journaling, has started eating healthier (which will impact her other health issues positively), and is attempting to get out for a short daily walk. Client commented that her shoulder pain from repetitive movements within her caring role had been minimised from the massage. Client asked for a foot/leg massage next session, whereby client commented afterwards, “feel as though my shoulders have dropped”, and the following week commented, “I had a great response with the oil blend”. Client has described The Haven as a “lifesaver”, and comments, “I'm really feeling the benefit of the sessions”.