Time to Live
A story by Voluntary Service Aberdeen
We provided grants directly to carers who live in Aberdeen City.
What Time to Live did
Application forms and guidance are available on the Adult Carer web page of VSA's Website. We also produced an information leaflet explaining about Short Break Funding and used direct quotes from the evaluation forms received last year to give examples of how Carer's have used the grants in the past and the benefits to them. Applications are considered on a monthly basis by a panel. Members include 2 reps from the Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership, one who manages a Community Mental Health team and the other responsible for Self Directed Support. We have a representative from Alzheimer Scotland and the manager of the Adult Carer Support Service and the manager of the Young Carer's Support service here at VSA. Applications are discussed amongst panel members with decisions being mindful of sustainability once the grant has been used.
We have attended a significant number of events over the year and we promoted Short Break Funding at these events. We circulated information and promotional material across the Health and Social Care Partnership and had an article in the Partnership newsletter. We include information about Short Break Funding in our own quarterly Carer's Newsletter and have also had features from Carer's who have received grants.
We also use the Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations weekly ebulletin at various times during the year. This is circulated to all third sector organisations across the City. All applications are supported by Carer Advisors who work in the team and often the applications arise as a result of our Outcome focused conversations which we have with Carer's who use our service.
Paul applied for a grant and used this to fund sessions with a personal trainer. He had some specific requests to suit his needs including that the training had to be done early in the morning so that he could be home by 8.30 am to be there for his wife getting up in the morning, that the training had to improve his physical fitness but also to positively stimulate his mental wellbeing and energy.
Paul has followed the training and nutrition programme and he is already seeing a the positive benefits and enjoying it. The other reason Paul wanted to become fitter was that he wanted to run and fundraise in support of Charities such as the Stroke Association and Marie Curie which he has achieved.
She also believed that being able to do something to relieve her stress would make the caring role she has easier and less of a worry. She felt that the adults she cares for would be happy to see her doing something that she enjoyed.
Katie believes this was a well earned break for them both and that they enjoyed the time spent together away from their caring responsibilities, that being able to relax and unwind both physically and mentally, provided time to be themselves. it also helped Katie and her husband as he often feels left out as Katie doesn't have time to spend with him.
What Voluntary Service Aberdeen has learnedFor the 16/17 grants we have seen a wide variety of options being taken up by Carer's in terms of how they use the grant and the kind of breaks they have. This has ranged from holidays with or without the cared for person to fishing permits, personal trainers, cinema passes, garden furniture and plants to spa treatments and pampering sessions. It is important for Carer's themselves to identify what a break from the caring role should look like and for them to determine the activity they would get most benefit from. No one size fits all.
We have seen more new carer's applying for grants and in some instances they have been carer's with long standing caring roles and also those with multiple caring roles for example older parents and children and young people. We have also come to realise that for some carers to access the break, a number of family members and friends have been supportive in caring for the person while the main carer has a break.
Many carer's have not been able to have a break from their caring role for a number of years. It doesn't matter what the type of break is or for how long, the majority of carers do get great benefit form being able to have the break. One carer who used the grant to book a series of pampering sessions commented that she looked forward to knowing that once a month she had 45 mins break away for herself.
Challenges continue to be around the sustainability and we do receive applications from a small number of the same carers on an annual basis often for the same type of break, which we are not always able to support. We do encourage carer's who see the benefit of having a break, to request a statutory Carer's Assessment from the Health and Social Care Partnership in order to have a support package in their own right and to ask to be considered for either option one or option two of Self Directed Sspport which would enable them to have flexibility around their choice of break. Many are reluctant to do so.
Using and featuring Carer's stories in our newsletter and on our web page has helped to promote the grant funding.