Time to Live Edinburgh
A story by VOCAL
We provided grants directly to carers who live in Edinburgh.
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. 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 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. Grants 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 7 carers, from a variety of caring backgrounds, supported by Assistant Director (Carer Support). The panel meet fortnightly to review applications against eligibility and priority criteria. If the panel seek additional information not provided on the form before they can make a decision then the Carers Support and Training Manager 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. VOCAL’s newsletter Carers News has a distribution of approx. 5000 carers and 800 professionals have regular features. 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. 3000 carers and professionals. Information on the grants and the application process was also included in presentations reaching audiences totally over 800 professionals and approx. 100 carers and 300 members of the public.
In addition Carer Support Staff and volunteers working at the Carers Centre have worked in partnership with individual carers to identify need and to explore how a grant could be used to meet those needs.
Prior to receiving the grant the carer reported she had been feeling highly stressed and drained by the support her son needed. In addition to his Autistic Spectrum Disorder he had become quite depressed over the last 18 months and had needed significantly more support. The carer felt a change of environment especially getting out of the city would be beneficial to both her (and also her son’s) mental health. She also hoped to go for long walks to improve her physical health which she felt she never had the time to do at home.
Following the break the carer reported a significant improvement in her health and well being especially her mood which had previously been quite low. ‘ It was wonderful to get away, with peace and quiet and some walks, as well as a bit of quality time with her son. The carer reported that on returning home she felt more positive and better able to cope. She also reported feeling more motivated and planned to sustain her improved health by seeing friends for walks.
The carer was invited to a conference in her former field of study as a guest speaker. Her husband was very supportive and recognised this was a great opportunity for her to maintain her interests and professional standing. The grant provided by Time to Live Edinburgh enabled her to pay for carer to visit her husband three times a day to support her husband for the duration of her trip to the conference enabling her to participate.
Following the break the carer reported ‘The participation brought back the old me and I feel energised and empowered by it. ….I met new people whom I can now count in my professional network. Hopefully this will result in further collaborations.’
The carer also said that despite things being currently very difficult financially she felt more confident about her economic future being able to attend the conference meant she is ‘building a life for myself for the future when I am no longer caring and will be able to provide for myself financially’ The carer also reported an improvement in her social well being as saying a result of attending the event, she has made new friends who are in regular email contact with her to see how she is doing. She met someone who has had experience of cancer and her support has been very helpful.
The carer stated that he felt if he had a day or two to himself he would be less stressed and better able to cope for the rest of the week. The carer was awarded a grant, which was used to purchase a sitter/companion service to give him a break from caring. The time the service was with his wife he used to see friends and go to the shops. Following the breaks the carer reported ‘receiving the funding has given me hope. I can see there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I am moving in the right direction.’ In addition the carer reported feeling less stressed and more confident about the future and his caring role.
What VOCAL has learnedThe Time to Live application form is a very useful tool to help carers reflect on their situation and needs. This is extremely beneficial as it supports carers to identify the kind of break that will be the most meaningful and successful for them. It also highlights areas of need that could possibly be addressed in others ways such as through support to make a benefits claim or to access a piece of equipment through an OT assessment. We have found that rarely is a grant awarded with out some other kind of support being offered.
Approximately 40% of carers accessing a grant are new to VOCAL’s services at the time of application. We have attracted new carers and those most in need of support wide spread promotion of the opportunity and work with partners who are also supporting carers. The priority criteria that complement the eligibility criteria give priority to those who have not received funding before and have limited other support while not excluding others. This has helped to ensure those in greatest need and those least likely to access support are supported.
VOCAL’s Carer Support Team provide support to carers who find applying challenging, this includes solution focused questioning to identify what difference a break might make and what needs to be in place to achieve that difference, support with research, support with completion of an application form and support arrange the break once the grant is received. This support helps to reduce barriers making it easier for those least likely to access support to apply.