Time Out project
A story by Carers of West Lothian
We provided grants directly to carers who live in West Lothian.
What Time Out project did
In line with the new guidelines we had to make changes to the application process and how we allocated funds. We designed a new application form and a set of guidelines which set out the eligibility and criteria for applying to our Short Breaks project "Time Out". We set up a decision making panel, which met monthly, consisting of Carers of West Lothian's Senior Administrator, a Carers of West Lothian Board member, a social worker and a carer.
We let carers know about the fund by advertising in our quarterly newsletter, having a dedicated page on our website and making other professionals aware. We found the biggest uptake was through our newsletter, with some carers using the website and some by word of mouth. Our carer support workers continued to make carers they were working with aware of the fund. This was very much a learning curve for us and we were able to make some small changes to the application form and guidance notes for the next round of funding as a result. We received a huge number of applications and even with an additional grant we had allocated all our funds by April 14.
The whole family benefited Carer B stated “Absolutely it improved the well being of my entire family”. The family were able to reconnect and the husband/wife bond was re- established. His wife was mentally recharged and her feeling of self worth was returned, she lost the feeling that she was preventing the family from enjoying life outside of their home and increased her confidence as a wife and mother.
Since going on her school trip Young Carer A has realised that she can take some time for herself and using a leisure centre membership, which was also paid for from the grant, has been going every week to play badminton and tennis and go swimming with a friend.
Comments from the carers include: “Good company and a change of surroundings. It was a break away from the norm”, “I will be better able to cope later” and “Having a catch up with other carers was really beneficial to me”
The carers really enjoyed their day out, chatting with other carers in a relaxed manner and having the opportunity to have time for themselves.
What Carers of West Lothian has learnedWe had to make several fairly major changes to the way we operated the fund this year so there were a few things that we have learned. The application process and guidelines were a big change as previously our support workers completed a short form. We realised that the new form would have to be fairly comprehensive to allow the panel to make awards based on the information in them. On the whole the application forms worked and there was sufficient information gathered.
One of the main changes made was to ask the carer to provide a referee to support their application, however we found that the person named as a referee was not always aware they had been named. We have clarified that on our new application form. We also noted that people did not always read the guidelines and so we have strengthened the need to do so before completing the application form.
We also realised very quickly that our grant was going to run out very early in the year and even with a further award our funds were allocated by April 14. By reducing the amount of grant awarded to each applicant at the April panel, we were able to give an award to everyone, albeit less than they had originally asked for. We have reduced the maximum grant this year to allow us to offer more grants to carers.