Time to Smile :-)
A story by Crossroads Caring For Carers Cowal & Bute SCIO
Time to Smile was a project delivered to support unpaid Carers and cared for in Cowal and Bute. The project plan was to work in collaboration with Cowal & Bute Elderly befrienders. Our aim was to provide enjoyable social events to aid in reducing isolation and improving connections and wellbeing.
What Time to Smile :-) did
We started out project with planning and delivery of 3 successful Christmas lunch events 2020 held in Bute, Dunoon and lochgoilhead. The events were a huge success and the feedback from all 75 who attended was sincere gratitude, comments such as "thank you it has really lifted my spirits" and "what a fabulous meal in lovely surroundings with great chat with other carers" were among just some of the feedback received.
We supported carers and Cared for with transport arrangements at all events and in Lochgoilhead we worked directly with Cowal & Bute Elderly Befrienders SCIO to joint host the event and shared the transport support to allow some cared for people to attend the event. This was enjoyed by both the carer and the cared for person as many stated it was very rare that they have been able to socialise together and in the company of others having a direct impact on reducing isolation and improving positive feelings of wellbeing, much enjoyment was had by all who attended.
Sadly our other planned events were unable to take place due to the restrictions that the pandemic brought upon us all. We were then faced with a different challenge as to how do we reach out and deliver the remainder of the project that will allow us to improve wellbeing despite the restrictions in place and ensuring that all relevant risk reduction measures were adhered to. Though team discussions and idea sharing and consultation with the funders to ensure we met the aims and goals of the funding.
We were limited in how we could move forward with targeted project aims such as reducing isolation and meeting with other was now not possible so our focus moved specifically to improving positive feelings and wellbeing through something that could be enjoyed in the home.
Afternoon Teas were delivered to 160 carers and cared for combined. 125 Christmas hampers were delivered 2021 feedback was amazing, "its was such a lovely surprise" and "we felt really special" were among some that were received. We supported local businesses in Dunoon and Bute for afternoon teas and hampers. The project has been a huge success appreciated by so many in challenging times.
What Crossroads Caring For Carers Cowal & Bute SCIO has learned
Working with funders to change the project but to remain within the required outcomes, we have not required to change the project delivery in the past so this was a new experience that required thinking outside the box and positive ideas sharing and team work.
This was the first time we worked in partnership with another organisation to deliver this type of project. It has been a highly positive experience and effective despite the challenges brought by the pandemic, much has been learned throughout the processes of delivery and change.
This funding offers a much needed opportunity for carers and cared for to enjoy supports that assist with improved wellbeing, a key focus for this vulnerable group, any opportunity for respite from the significant challenges carers face is in high demand a further learning outcome of this project is the need to find further future funding sources to ensure we can continue to offer supports that improve wellbeing through project delivery such as Time to Smile.
A massive thanks to the funders for making it possible and to the carers and those cared for who enjoyed what the project had to offer and to the team who worked effectively to make the project a success during months of uncertainty, you all are amazing.
How Crossroads Caring For Carers Cowal & Bute SCIO has benefitted from the funding
The organisations have benefitted in many ways from the Creative Breaks Funding this has included lifting the profile of the organisation. Improved social media presence through highlighting the project. Skills Development of project delivery in a rapid changing challenging time. strengthening of already established partnership working approaches to improves service delivery and outcomes.
Carers will have more opportunities to enjoy a life outside of their caring role. Carers and cared for will be given the opportunity to access a programme of social events/activities and this will have been funded and organised for the carer by Crossroads Staff.
The project outcome was achieved to an extent prior to lockdown and the restriction that the pandemic brought we were able to run 3 events - Christmas lunches in Bute, Dunoon, And Lochgoilhead which were enjoyed by all, planned, delivered and a huge success fully funded and worked with Cowal Elderly Befrienders in the lochgoilhead event to give some carers and cared for the opportunity to enjoy a social event together. Sadly other aspects of the social events planned had to be cancelled although we worked hard to deliver other enjoyable aspects of the overall projects as reported.
Carer and cared for who had voiced that socially they had not spent time together in the company of others at an events for many years. We identified the need and discussed the opportunity to support both to attend Christmas Lunch in rural area, explained that those attending would be understanding of the challenges faced as carers and that the events would be a great opportunity to enjoy a funded meal in lovely surrounding and great company, an opportunity to relax and and potential for new relationships to be formed which can be challenging in more rural areas. Working with befrienders to support with transport and the smooth running of the event allowed both organisations to ensure that carer and the cared for person had a stress free enjoyable social event attendance which both enjoyed and stated they had experienced for a very long time. Improving connections, reducing isolation, improving relationships and overall wellbeing. As a result of this opportunity both expressed they wanted to try and make a joint outing something that they do more regularly. Unfortunately plans to be included in other social events of the year in this project were not able to take place due to COVID restrictions on events and meeting with others but they were included in the change of project delivery which was also enjoyed with measurable positive impacts.
Delivery of a programme of social events for adult carers and cared for to access allowing respite from the caring role
The project planning and delivery was directly impacted by the pandemic restrictions despite this we were able to plan and deliver part of the project and then swiftly adapt through consultation and team work to deliver the change in project to meet with the pandemic restrictions that were put in place at government level. This was made possible by experienced team work, positive communication, adaptability and the vision to ensure that carers and cared for were not disadvantaged during what was already a significantly challenging time with increased pressures and restrictions. Staff maintained regular contact with carers and cared for and ensured the swift planning and delivery of afternoon teas and Christmas hampers to carers and cared for persons throughout Cowal & Bute, Many thankyou cards, letters and phone calls were received the impact of this change in project delivery was quite astounding with comments of feeling valued, feeling special, how much it meant to be remembered.
A carer and care for person who due to health complications and requirement to shield were feeling the impacts of the isolation measures in place over many months, they were overwhelmed to received both the afternoon teas and the Christmas hampers and were emotional when expressing sincere thanks. The enjoyment of receiving the delivery and the contents lifted the spirits of both carer and cared for and opening the hamper full of surprises and treats made them feel special and valued.
Carers and the people they care for will have improved wellbeing. Carers enjoy time to relax and engage in a positive social activity, spending time with others and enjoying a meal and or entertainment, promoting positive opportunities for improved wellbeing
The overall findings during this project delivery time scale and the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and the need to change how we all live and adhere to the restrictive measures that are put in place and continue at this time has impacted on the wellbeing of this vulnerable group, created additional stress factors and for some an increased need for support from multi agency approaches. The project allowed us to deliver elements of different opportunities that supports positive wellbeing including reducing isolation, feeling valued, enjoyable gifts, social events this had a strong impact for those involved in the project including the staff involved in the delivery and planning processes, as it allowed them to part of providing positive impacts for carers and cared for with measurable positive outcomes in an increased challenging time and to hear and read the positive feedback received it also impacted positively on the team who also faced increased challenges.
Rural carers living in significantly isolated areas were astonished to have a chap at the door and find a Christmas hamper. one carer stated she had returned from a necessary hospital appointment feeling down and alone in her thoughts, on arriving late evening to the rural home to find a hamper and Christmas card with kind words of support was a complete welcomed surprise which brought the carer out of a dark place with improved feeling of connection. The content were enjoyed immensely and much needed at a time of increased desperation due to a number of factors. Some times it the small things that have the biggest impact!
Additional project outcome
Promote and develop strong partnership working to ensure the best outcome for the people we support. Ongoing development of the partnership working relationship resulting in future opportunities to work together cost effectively to reach as many people in our diverse caring communities
We have continued to develop and work effectively with partner organisations ensuring we can reach out to as many people and effectively offer support with positive impacts. This project collaboration with Befrienders continues to develop a strong working relationship for the better of the people requiring support, it allows us to break down some of the barriers in rural service delivery by working together. We will continue to joint work for positive outcomes going forward this project gives further evidence of the need to work effectively during challenging times, the importance of positive communication and the requirement to adapt effectively when faced with challenges. It provided opportunities to further develop team work approaches in what is already well established and experienced staff who have delivered many projects but no one could have foreseen the pandemic and the impact it would have on service delivery, people and how we live.