What was the issue you were addressing or working on?
- To develop an extensive range of innovative and personalised support services to carers.
- To help increase their social and networking capacity.
- To give emotional/practical support to carers.
- To identify needs and coping strategies of family carers.
- To value and recognise the major contributions that carers make to the delivery of the community care services.
- Maintaining a quality of life of their choosing.
What you did?
Employment of a part time carer support worker in early 2012 after application to the innovation fund, then funding, has been continued to 2013-2014 through Change Fund monies. This is providing outreach to carers of members of Woodburn Day Care Club and the wider community on an outreach basis giving one to one support, crisis support and facilitating group work at WDCC.
The Carer Support Officer (CSO) undertakes home visits to vulnerable carers, allowing them an opportunity to establish: the level of support the carer needs; potential crisis situations; an overview of the home caring arrangements; any health and safety risks in the home; and any other indications that the caring arrangement may break down. The CSO works to help the carer to identify what support they would benefit from and link them into other sources of support such as the Older People’s Income Maximisation Officer, the Local Area Coordinators, the Community Psychiatric Nurses, etc.
The CSO also encourage the older carers to participate in carers’ meetings to allow them a degree of peer support, and to allow their views to feed into the Midlothian community planning processes A programme of events and trips has been organised to allow carers respite and time to focus on their own needs.
What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?
Having the resources of Woodburn Day Care club has helped to deliver a more informed support service. Networking with statutory and voluntary agencies has been essential in delivery. It is evident working with the carers that the majority of them, the older carers in particular, have great anxiety dealing with paper work. Very often a large part of time was spent filling in forms for financial benefits and legal documents. The quality of life for our carers who have increased their income is qualitatively different. First the emotional impact is a sense of disbelief, followed by a sense of relief, then elation, which ultimately leads to increased self-assurance and justice. Giving a sense of security and stability, reducing financial stress, thus enhancing their overall well-being. This is a crucial component of the CSO’s support, which has now been identified.
The carers’ needs are variable and although you try to have ‘time structure’ when visiting, this more often than not could not be achieved especially when crisis occurs or if extra emotional support is needed. Time is crucial for carers. Carers’ feeling safe in their own surroundings is also key to their and their cared for person’s well-being. Support in devising practical plans can reduce emotional anxiety. Once a plan has been put in place it has longevity, which in turn means safer for longer and reduced anxiety for longer.
The monthly carers’ support group is recognised as a very valuable meeting where barriers have come down and carers can ultimately be themselves. Carers supporting carers, sharing their experiences, building new friendships, organising social get-togethers and increasing their social capacity. Gaining information on local events/activities/ opportunities reducing social isolation. Inviting speakers of their choosing to help increase their knowledge and awareness of their rights and other services. Being involved in carer outings helps further develop their sense of normality.
It has been acknowledged that the initial bid for a 21 hour post was limited and the need for a fulltime support worker is required. We know from the waiting lists and other carer agencies that there are many carers out there who are not able to access support. The demand is growing and WDCC feel this post more than justifies a 35 hour working week.
Contacts - to find out more
Janette Hope firstname.lastname@example.org 0131 654 1770