Time for Me
A story by Carers of West Dunbartonshire
We provided grants directly to carers who were caring for an adult over 21 years living in West Dunbartonshire.
What Time for Me did
An application pack application was developed. This contained an application form, a leaflet about the project, an agreement with guidelines/criteria form and an expenses record. Promotional material for the project was produced and distributed among statutory and other third sector agencies. The existing good partnerships that we have with a variety of agencies and individuals was used to raise awareness and promote the project.
These included: Health staff, GPs, District Nurses, Social Work teams, Voluntary organisation partners. The promotional material included: leaflets, fliers, Website information, Information in our own newsletter and other organisations’ newsletters.
We will also informed carers on an individual basis, for example those that were being offered a high level of support from our Carer Support team and who were felt to have a particularly high need. We also carried carried out “mini” presentations about the project at our own carer support groups and external carer support groups. This ground work formed a sound basis for us to build on and to promote the development of the project.
Grant applications were considered on a fortnightly basis by a small grants panel. The grants panel comprised of the “Time for Me” Project worker, Carers’ Services Manager and a carer volunteer. Each application was considered individually and against the criteria which had been set. Carers were given a choice as to how they wanted the grant to be administered, these were: as a small personalised budget, as a break arranged by the Carers’ Centre or as a combination of both.
Successful applicants who chose the personalised budget option were awarded their grant in the form of a cheque. Carers were asked to keep a record of all expenses as well as receipts.
Time for Me grant purchased replacement care hours from a care provider. The worker cared for Mr M while his wife attended the classes. This helped for 6 weeks until other arrangements could be made to allow it to continue longer term.
A Time for Me grant helped her attend a break with other carers. She was able to access peer support, relax and make new friends. Mrs S now has an allocated CSW and accesses support regularly. She has attended Training courses, therapies and regularly attends a support group.
An occupational therapy assessment carried out and identified more appropriate seating for J. The Time for Me grant together with match funding from two other sources enabled us to purchase this for the couple.
What Carers of West Dunbartonshire has learnedHaving a break is such an important thing for carers, so being an organisation that is able to offer a service like short breaks really positions us well. For many carers getting away "with" the person they care for rather than getting away "from" them is just as important. It's the getting away from the daily routine that's the key for many carers. We all need to learn from that and be flexible about what a "break" can mean for people. A break is often the thing that carers feel will be most difficult to get but yet the most useful to them. They are often put off by bureaucracy. So it's important to keep processes straightforward.
Carers may initially apply for a break but by engaging with services, particularly new carers, it is likely that other support needs are identified. We encouraged carers who are supported by our alcohol project ( SEARCH) to apply for the grants. We had to examine ethically how this would work and explore any unintended consequences of issuing a personalised budget.
We also noticed that the number of cared for with dementia was very low. We found this surprising as the fund is for adults we would have expected it to be higher. We explored this with dementia carers and it would appear that they actually find it very difficult to have a break either with or away from the cared for person for complex and different reasons and report that having a break can actually add to the stress of the caring situation.
We will work with dementia carers to address this if successful with the next funding round.