Time to Live for Mental Health Carers
A story by Support in Mind Scotland
We provided grants directly to carers who provide care and support to people with serious mental health problems and mental illness
What Time to Live for Mental Health Carers did
We met as a panel to review the paperwork and processes. We agreed to extend the scheme to young carers following requests from workers with slightly amended criteria and extra safeguards in terms of accounting for the funds awarded. The scheme was publicised to all carers' organisations, and through service user networks and our database now exceeds 140 contacts. The panel consists of 4 people: 2 from Support in Mind Scotland, 1 from the Carers Trust and 1 from the Edinburgh Carers Council. We ran the scheme in 2 rounds, with well publicised closing dates and award dates, and sought feedback from carers as a condition of them receiving an award.
"Absolutely amazing opportunity - it has made me so much more aware that I can have time out and relax. Without this funding I would not have pushed myself to enjoy a bit of the time even though it is 45 minutes a month it feels amazing. Thank you so so much. (carers who purchased a course of relaxation).
"During the break our stress levels significantly decreased. xxx was much more active and less on edge. She slept better although she still had nightmares but the tranquil surroundings helped her stave off the usual daily horrible feelings during the day. She was more full of life and fun."
"I truly believe that this award scheme is fabulous in that it can allow very stressed and suicidal people a chance to let off steam." (all people expressing suicidal thoughts were followed up and offered support).
I overcame my fear of heights and scrambled up 2500 ft to top of xxx. My whole body ached the next day as I'd never done this before but the satisfaction was overwhelming and the memories are so vivid and its given me a broader look at life. I look forward to many more walks with my old school pal who encouraged me to do it and get away for a complete change."
"It was very helpful to do something that was structured and yet flexible enough to enjoy. I met a lovely group of people (and forgot about my caring situation for the hours that I was there. I also learning something new and very creative." (4-day art course)
"I would just like to mention that I feel as if the short break fund is extremely beneficial as caring for individuals with mental health difficulties is extremely challenging. Therefore the break fund makes a difference to the likes of carers, reducing burnout."
"I am very grateful for receiving this money in order that I could book a holiday away with my husband. It was reduced both our stress and has given us a new perspective on our life."
"I just want to thank you for the award. It has made a huge difference to me and will help me to continue for another while in my caring role."
"The breaks were fantastic. We cycled, threw stones into the river and spent time together. This time helped us explain things about my husbands' illness to our son. The downside - as with any break you come home and you're back to business as usual. BUT I was in a better place mind-wise to deal with it."
What Support in Mind Scotland has learnedWe have learned that most carers chose to have time away with the person they care for as enjoying 'normal' family experiences and giving everyone the chance to relax and enjoy social time together helped to restore relationships and relieve everyone's stress. We also found extending to young carers really beneficial but challenging as the initial criteria and processes were aimed at adults and we found it difficult in some applications to hear the young person's 'voice'.
Building in an extra layer of permissions for young people also challenged us to think about the impact on the whole family of the break. We also learned that the support of the support worker is critical as many of the applications refused were refused due to the form not including enough information to make a decision - we could not see what the impact of the break requested would have for the carer; and so we again need to stress to workers the importance of spending time with carers completing the forms.
Our organisation has reached many more carers than we would through other means; and we have made links with other organisations and so extended our knowledge of what support exists for carers across Scotland.