Aberdeenshire Council’s and the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership’s approach to supporting carers is being boosted by local hospitality providers.
A pilot ‘Respitality’ project which began in central Aberdeenshire towards the end of last year sees local businesses asked if they would like to support the wellbeing of both young people and adults who have a caring role by offering short breaks, spa treatments, leisure passes, dining experiences and a range of other offerings either free of charge or at a discounted rate.
Similar projects elsewhere in Scotland have proven to be very successful and a new respitality project worker commissioned by the Council and employed by leading social care charity Quarriers been charged with making links with local businesses keen to participate.
Having secured four three-month gym memberships as the first donation for the project, respitality support worker Ann Brodie explained: “I recently approached Energie Fitness in Inverurie to see if they would like to be the first gifter for the project. They were really open to the idea of respitality and how a donation from their business could help to improve a carer’s health and wellbeing. Their gym promotes a friendly, warm atmosphere and their knowledgeable staff support people to achieve their personal goals so it’s just a perfect fit. They’re delighted to be giving back to the community at the same time as promoting health and fitness and I hope it will encourage other businesses to consider taking part too.”
The Scottish Government recognises the need for all those who have a caring role to benefit from regular opportunities for respite to support their own wellbeing, and in turn the wellbeing of those they are caring for. As such, national targets have been set for increasing the number of opportunities available in different local areas, and additional funding has been provided.
Quarriers are already commissioned by the Council to provide support services to carers, and this has brought about an expansion of their existing contract. While this project will see them being able to look into respite options, their family wellbeing workers can also assess carers’ needs and provide information, advice and signposting; offer 1:1 and group support for carers; deliver training on topics such as moving and handling or epilepsy awareness; and run events. They can also help with accessing self-directed support budgets so carers get what they need to make caring easier.
Chair of the Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee, Cllr Gillian Owen commented: “We recognise that any carer needs breathing space and our approach is about enabling that, particularly when we’re talking about young carers’ who also have their education and personal and social development to think about. Support comes in many forms and we hope that this respitality project will inspire local businesses to lend a hand in offering some much needed VIP treatment.”
Vice Chair Cllr Rosemary Bruce added: “Changing the perception of what it means to be a carer is also very important to us. Not all carers are looking after those with a physical disability, for example, and their circumstances are very wide ranging. Quarriers focus on understanding your caring role and then working with you to find out how we can support you to continue that important role.”
Aberdeenshire Council has responsibility for providing social care services to young people (up to 18 years of age) while Aberdeenshire’s Health and Social Care Partnership coordinates provision for adults.
A Young Carer Strategy was introduced by the Council in 2018 in line with the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 and set out a number of ambitious plans to make a difference, including the Respitality project. A Young Carers Statement is now provided to all young carers who request one detailing any need for additional support in helping to ensure their wellbeing.
The overall number of young carers receiving support in Aberdeenshire has increased since the strategy was implemented, and Quarriers are typically supporting around 200 young people at any one time. As part of the wider strategy, council officers have also been involving young carers directly in developing a suite of information to support others in similar circumstances.
Adult carers are supported with an Adult Carers Support Plan. For further information and advice, any carer (regardless of their age) can contact Quarriers. They are commissioned to deliver support in this area and will begin by asking if you wish to register with the service.