Time to Live - Edinburgh
A story by VOCAL
We provided grants directly to carers who live in Edinburgh.
What Time to Live - Edinburgh did
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, on request 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.
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.
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 our website 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 being contacted by email with forms and details of how to apply.
In his application for the carer noted that he was experience disrupted sleep and that his ‘stress levels are probably too high so being able to slow down would be great. The carer observed that he is always rushing between places and tasks and said ‘ I am hopeful that a break will hep me keep up with all I need to do for X. The cooking, cleaning, shopping, dealing with bills, etc. and give me more energy for social time together which will benefit our relationship’.
Following the break the carer reported a big improvement in his health and well-being reporting that following the series of breaks he felt much better physically and mentally. ‘I have more energy and felt less stressed (the breaks) made big difference’. The carer reported ‘ I would not have been able to go without VOCAL's funding ‘ so the funding allowed him to ‘ feel great and relax’.
The carer also noted that applying for the grant had been a useful process ‘makes you focus on something that is helpful to you.’ ‘Other wise I just trundle along’. The carer reported that the opportunity to apply for and receive a grant had helped him break the status quo of his situation and focus on himself for a little while.
The fact he had been given a grant helped him to stay motivated about taking a break to look after his health when it would be easy to not to.
The carer was unsure how she would cope with him at home all the time. She reported ‘ it is impossible to leave him at home’ and was beginning to explore other options such as residential respite and long term care.
Once the grant was awarded the carer approached a carer who knew her husband and got on well with him and arranged for him to begin regular visits. Her husband and the carer have been on a variety of local day trips together visiting the beech at Portobello, the Botanic Gardens, going on walks. Her husband enjoys these outings and the carer reported ‘ I look forward to that day. That Friday is my freedom day.’
The carer is using the time that her husband is out with the carer in a variety of ways to help her sustain her caring role. She is using the time to catch up on household tasks and going to the shops, she is also using the time to do things she enjoys like going out for a walk, knitting, meeting a friend for a coffee or going for a coffee on her own.
The carer reported that although her husband’s package of support is being reviewed she feels more confidence in her caring role. She said ‘still unsure what is happening long-term but in the medium term, I am able to continue because of the regular breaks from daybreaks staff, paid for by Short Breaks.’
At the time of application the carer reported that his caring role noted that he began caring in 1993 and had limited breaks during that time. He reported that his caring began at 5.30am and continued into the evening for 6 days a week. His only respite from caring was provided by his brother (who would care for their father during his trip) The intensity of the caring situation meant that he had little time to enjoy a life outside his caring role and he noted this impacted on his health and also his relationship with his father.
Following the trip the carer reported that he had had ‘a wonderful time’ and said ‘ I was able to switch off and relax’. The carer has an interest in family history and noted on his application form that he wanted to go to Blackpool as his late mother had spent a lot of time there as a child. ‘ I visited places my mother spoke of and I had seen in pictures’. The carer noted that he was reminded of what life was like when he was not caring so intensively, this was hard but useful.
The carer reported an improvement in his health and wellbeing and in his confidence in caring following the break. He also noted he felt more confidence shaping services to support himself and his father and had made contact with two local organisations he had been told about by the Carer Support Worker to explore more regular breaks from caring and other possible support as he is keen to have more time to pursue his interests and have a life outside caring.
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. Many 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 befriender's 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.