Time to Live Edinburgh
A story by VOCAL
We provided grants directly to carers who live in Edinburgh, to plan and pay for a short break of their choice.
What Time to Live Edinburgh did
The Application process, VOCAL has developed a user friendly application pack containing an application form, guidance (including eligibility criteria and priority criteria) and an agreement. This pack is available on VOCAL’s website www.vocal.org.uk, on request from the Carers Centre and from a wide variety of partner organisations.
The application form supports carers to reflect on their best hopes for the break(s), the change/outcomes they hope the break will lead to and how to ensure the break will be successful for both them and the person they support. Carers may complete the form electronically or as a hard copy. Carers can do this independently or with support from one of VOCAL’s Carer Support Workers. Applications are reviewed by the Panel on a fortnightly basis. Letters informing carers of the outcome of their application (with cheques where appropriate) are issued on the day the Panel meet ensuring that no carer waits more than 15 days for information on the application.
Decision Making Panel, VOCAL’s Grants Panel is made up of 6 carers, from a variety of caring backgrounds, supported by VOCAL’s Assistant Director (Carer Support). The Panel meet fortnightly to review applications against eligibility and priority criteria. If the Panel seek additional information to that provided on the form before they can make a decision then the Assistant Director (Carer Support) will contact the carer, gather information and bring it to the next Panel meeting for review.
Promotion of Time to Live Edinburgh, VOCAL promotes Time to Live widely and regularly through a range of methods. We have run regular features in VOCAL’s newsletter Carers News has a distribution of approx. 6000 carers and 200 professionals. There is a dedicated page on VOCAL’s website and home page features have run several times this year on www.vocal.org.uk and www.carerstraining.co.uk and VOCAL’s Facebook page. The opportunity to apply for a grant has also been promoted in VOCAL’s bi-monthly ebulletin which has a circulation of approx. 3500 carers and professionals. Targeted promotion has also taken place with approx. 50 partners who have regular contact with carers.
In discussion with a Carers Support Worker the carer identified that she had always enjoyed going to the cinema and that this was something she would like to do again to take a break from caring and to have some time to herself. The carer now regularly attends the afternoon showing which with travel she can manage in 3 hours. She has picked the afternoon show so that she can give her mother lunch and get her settled and be home in time medication and evening meal. The carer said ‘ it is not easy to get time to myself but this fits’.
The carer reported that the pass was fantastic. She said ‘ it gives me something to look forward to, something for me’ ‘without the worry of how much the showing cost I can leave midway if I need to and go back and see it all another time. Although I rarely have done this’ ‘It is great escapism and I can just be somewhere else watching an amazing story, switch off and relax’.
The carer also noted that the cinema and the time of the shows she has chosen has helped her really enjoy it as there is quite a few people there on her own so ‘(I) don’t feel out of place’. The carer also highlighted an added benefit to the cinema pass was coming home and talking to her mother about the film she had seen gave them both something new to talk about. The carer said she felt this was important as both of their worlds have become a bit smaller since the caring role began.
The carer decorated the shed with fairy lights, cushions, curtains and put a comfortable chair in it. Once it was all set up she told VOCAL ‘I am regularly sneaking of for a quiet cup of tea in my haven which has shelves and pictures on the wall and a little rattan rocking chair. The carer reported that this helped her feel more relaxed and able to cope. She spoke about having a space of her own had helped her remember she was important too ‘the grant has made me feel valued and supported. I had kind of forgotten about me’.
In conversation the carer made links between this and her self esteem which had suffered during her caring role and reported feeling a greater sense of emotional well-being and mentally stronger. The carer also spoke about how the shed helped her’ to go away mentally’. The carer also spoke about how the time in the shed had made her less ‘grouchy and tired’.
In her application the carer highlighted that if she had a break she would use the time to look after her own health and see friends which would ‘help maintain me and keep me going’. The carer spoke about the challenges of caring for her mother ‘24/7’ as well as managing the house and trying to support her Aunt. She recognised that this not sustainable with out a break as her Mother’s health was deteriorating. In addition she noted that a change of company would be helpful for her Mother who she described as a sociable person who currently only had her to talk to.
Once the sitters service began the carer told us she some times used the time to get out of the house walking or seeing friends and at other times remained at home but put herself in a different space/room where she could remain without interruption. She spoke about this saying ‘The main thing about having the cover, is that I can be in my room and feel that sense of not needing to be 'on call '. I can switch off and have time for myself. So it's more about that extra space.’
The carer has practised meditation for a number of years as a tool t maintain her well being. She had found herself unable to do this due to the intensity of her caring role. She spoke of this saying ‘For myself in order to manage the situation I rely on my meditation to keep my mind relaxed and to accept the situation.’ The carer spoke about how while the situation remains difficult she has found it easier to manage with breaks. She feels she can be there for her Mother while she needs her.
During the time that the carer was using the grant she received she was supported to submit an successful application for Attendance Allowance which she and her mother are using to continue the breaks she has begin.
What VOCAL has learnedWe continue to find the Short Breaks Fund has been a useful tool to encourage carers to self refer and to encourage professionals to promote VOCAL services. Approximately 65% of all applications received by the panel were from carers who had no previous contact with VOCAL. This tangible nature of the service provided and the speed at which it is offered seem to be attractive and provide sufficient motivation to engage with VOCAL. All of the carers who are new to VOCAL also receive a Carers Information Pack and many of them go on to use other VOCAL services such as counselling, training and one to one carer support.
We have found many of the carers applying for grants need support to manage the grant they receive especially where the carer wishes to use a sitter service to give them a series of short breaks. In the majority of cases this has been as a result of a lack of confidence or inexperience with using services prior to the grant. We have found it useful to have Carer Support Workers who can help carers to arrange their initial contact with a service or support carers to do this.
We have also found that many carers who have not used services e.g. cleaners, sitters or befrienders prior to the application for a grant have maintained these when the grant monies have been spent. This is usually funded by the Local Authority but on occasion has been through the carer’s or family members own funds. So the grant has been a trigger/stepping stone to engaging with services that have not been accessed before.