Time for Us
A story by PKAVS carers centre
To provide unpaid carers of all ages living in Perth & Kinross access to a full, varied and accessible calendar of short break opportunities delivered throughout the year.
What Time for Us did
This funding helped support PKAVS carers centre to offer a calendar of much needed short break opportunities for unpaid carers (and often the cared for person too) who live in Perth & Kinross (P&K). The calendar of activities was delivered virtually and face to face in locations throughout P&K therefore making these activities more easily accessible for carers to attend.
The type of activities we delivered over the year included:
Young carers Christmas Extravaganza which had 267 young carers, parents and siblings attend. An adult carers Christmas ceilidh which had 107 carers and cared for attend. The day services team delivered two residential breaks in the past year one in Strathpeffer and one in Fort William. This funding helped subsidise the cost of these for the carers and cared for who attended.
Various day trips were delivered across our young, young adult and adult carer services to places like Blair Drummond Safari park, Pitlochry Theatre for their Christmas panto, Edinburgh Christmas markets etc. The PKAVS carers choir continues to be a great success and they have now recorded a song they wrote around the challenges of being a carer called Breathe.
Our day services had the music man come in most weeks to entertain the clients. The majority of clients who attend our day services have a dementia diagnosis and so music is a great way of helping them take trips down memory lane. This funding helped support numerous other peer support groups we run such as the Bridge project for bereaved carers, the walking and cycling groups, Tai Chi sessions, Art with Nicola and Relax with Rosemary and many more besides.
We have no doubt given the feedback we receive that this funding meets the Creative Break principles such as improved wellbeing and supporting carers in sustaining their caring role. Probably our biggest success is also our biggest challenge. The demand to attend these groups and activities is great but given the massive increase in registered carers we've experienced over recent years we have to limit what is available to carers to ensure that everyone who wants to attend gets to go along to something.
What PKAVS carers centre has learned
The first learning is there isn't enough short breaks available to meet the needs of carers. Given we only have a certain amount of funding and the demand is so great there is no doubt we have had to look to make a more targeted offer to those carers we feel are most in need. The obvious problem with this is we are now limited in what we can offer to carers, who with a little bit of support could probably cope with their caring role, but with little to no support move towards crisis point sooner.
There is no doubt that over the past 12 months and more we deliver more services in partnership with other voluntary sector organisations than we've ever done before. As most organisations in this sector are the same, in terms of unprecedented demand and limited resources, it makes sense to pool our resources so we can share the workload and costs. Across all our short break services now we work in partnership with the likes of Saints in the Community, All Strong gym, Live Active Leisure, Mindspace, The Bike Shed and many more besides.
Finding other sources of funding is difficult as most funders now are inundated with applications and so can offer less or sometimes nothing at all. We don't receive much funding from national organisations for short breaks other than what we receive from Shared Care Scotland. We do have some long standing relationships with some smaller, local Trusts like the Basil Death Trust, the Thomson Charitable Trust etc. and some local Rotary clubs etc who help support our short break offers but these amounts still don't allow us to cope with the demand we are experiencing.
How PKAVS carers centre has benefitted from the funding
The honest truth is without this Creative Breaks funding the vast majority (if not all) of the short breaks we offer we wouldn't be able to continue with simply because we wouldn't have the funding in place to cover the costs. Given the funding challenges we've had with statutory sector colleagues over the past few years I feel certain that this funding wouldn't be replaced by funding from them. So the biggest benefit to PKAVS carers centre that this funding provides is it gives us the opportunity to continue to offer a varied and accessible calendar of short break opportunities to unpaid carers of all ages who live in P&K.
Carers and their cared for will have enjoyed attending a number of activities offered through our short breaks calendar giving them an opportunity to access life experiences that do not revolve around their caring role.
We believe we have delivered an accessible, entertaining and varied calendar of short break activities for carers of all ages using this funding. We have improved accessibility through a virtual or face to face offer with many of the face to face offers being delivered in various locations across P&K. We have taken regular feedback from those who attend so we know as we create new calendars of activities going forward that what we are offering is what the carers have asked for. There has been short break offers available to carers each and every week and the attendance we have seen at these events have proven that what we have been delivering is being well received by those we support. A summary of the feedback we have received from carers across all the events would be that they really welcome the break and having something to look forward to and how these peer support groups provided them with opportunities to build friendships with other people who face similar challenges.
Carer X has been attending PKAVS carers choir since it first began. In order for her to attend she has had to take her husband along as she has no one else to look after him at the times the choir meets. Turns out her husband recognises many of the songs being sung and regularly joins in. Carer X has called the choir a go send to her. With it meeting weekly she feels that some special time for her is never far away and this helps her cope with the challenges she faces being a carer. The choir supported by the choir master have written and now recorded a song about being a carer called Breathe. I will share this once I have the final version.
Carers and their cared for will report feeling better supported and better able to cope with their caring demands through their attendance at a number of short break offers made available through our calendar of activities.
We carry out evaluations after every one off event and groups of activities we deliver for carers. Below are the recurring themes that are mentioned in the carers feedback. It is great to have something to look forward to. I enjoyed getting out of the house for a change. It was nice to meet other carers as it makes you feel like you are not on your own. It is nice to put staff faces and names together - I have been talking to Mary for 2 years now but this was the first time I've met her face to face- although I feel like I know her already. It's good that I can take my (cared for) with me as otherwise I wouldn't have been able to come. Activities on the calendar are usually well attended and quite often we have had waiting lists of people wanting to attend. I guess that alone gives an indication that these events provide a source of support and empowerment for carers.
Carer C came to our carers Christmas ceilidh with her husband who has a worsening dementia diagnosis. The feedback she gave from the event was how nice it was to get out of the house to do something enjoyable for a change. That she really appreciated being invited as she doesn't get invited to much now and what she does get invited to she cant attend as often she has no one to look after her husband. Carer C said that it had given her something to look forward to and that attending the event had given her an uplift in spirits as she felt some people did actually care about how she is doing.
Carers and their cared for will report feeling less stressed and more relaxed in their relationships with each other and feel better supported to continue in their caring role.
Carers feedback tells us that having something to look forward to was hugely positive for their own wellbeing. With the calendar we created we could offer a variety of different options in terms of short breaks across a number of different localities using a number of different platforms and ensured as many carers as possible could access these. The events we delivered that included both carers and their cared for were always well attended and the feedback was carers welcomed spending some quality time with the person they care for away from the monotony of home. Many mentioned that it was nice to be husband/wife again, if even for a couple of hours, compared to carer and cared for. The challenge is as demand for services continues to grow we are faced with having to make a more targeted offer than we've ever had to which can mean what is available in terms of support now isn't what we could offer even 2 years ago.
Again this relates to the carers Christmas ceilidh. Carer J came along to this with her husband who has dementia. Carer J spent the whole time up dancing with her husband. As we know that music triggers memories even with those suffering from dementia and Carer J told us what a joy it was to have her husband up dancing and singing along to the songs. She told us it reminded her of when they first started dating. Carer J told us she wishes we could do this type of thing more often as it really helps her feel more ready for the challenges ahead.00