Wee Break Midlothian
A story by VOCAL
We provided grants directly to carers who live in Midlothian
What Wee Break Midlothian did
We have funded 41 carers to take breaks this year.
The majority have been for holidays (58%), Complimentary Therapies and sheds are the next popular (7% each). The main reason people asked for breaks was to 'recharge their batteries' (46%), followed by trying to restore a better caring/life balance (32%) and building better relationships with the person they care for (10%)
Support to apply: We have a dedicated support worker who can 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 to arrange the break once a grant has been received. This support helps to reduce barriers making it easier for those least likely to access support to apply.
Evaluation and Monitoring: After the break the support worker works with the carer to evaluate the impact the break has had on a carer's identified outcomes. We have recruited a new volunteer to help with this. We have restructured the way we can access reports on our organisation's database to be able to monitor any correlations between type of break/amount of money awarded and effect on outcomes. We collect a range of qualitative and quantitative data on every break taken.
Promotion of the Fund: We promote the fund through a range of methods. It has prominent position on the home page of our website and it has been mentioned on our facebook pages, newsletters and ebulletins. I have mentioned it in presentations including a conference to all OTs, a professional forum for Social Workers and a reviews of service provision.
Decision Making Process: We have a clear and simple application form that carers can complete on their own or with support. The decision making panel meets on the last Wednesday of the month and consists of 2 carers, a team leader from Social Work and a Community Psychiatric Nurse from the NHS. Decisions are made on the day and we have arranged for VOCAL's finance officer to work from our office on the day of the panel so that cheques can be sent out timeously
We funded fishing equipment and he has been fishing a few times which is "absolutely fantastic, it was the best thing I have done in ages - getting out fishing again. It gives me time away and my wife is enjoying the break from me too"
It does exactly what I wanted, as a retreat, and I feel that the benefits will "go on giving". It gives her "just enough separation to get space and time to myself, it fits my brief perfectly. I can't think of life without it now"
“Just to say thank you for that and for all the ongoing information you provide. It is a great help and much appreciated. I am seeing a client next week whose husband is struggling with caring for her and I think he would really like to find out about the places you have mentioned.” - OT “Just to let you know I’ve had a look at the leaflets you put in our slings. They are really lovely and informative! I think they will be really useful.” - OT
What VOCAL has learnedThe fund is extremely beneficial to our service as it is one of the main reasons that people engage with us. Through this initial interest we are then able to offer further support to help them think more creatively. Knowing that there is a possibility of funding to do something that you would really like to do (as opposed to being told you can choose from a small number of options) is a very powerful motivator.
Last year we had a small underspend in October due to fluctuations of numbers of applications throughout the year. We tried to manage this better this year and ended up with a smaller underspend. We will award more money during the summer next year.
We have recruited a volunteer to follow up outstanding awards - to tie up loose ends like unreturned receipts. This 'extra pair of hands' has enabled us to keep a better eye on when people are taking their breaks and allowed us to time our contact with them better. This has led to an increase in the number of receipts being returned.