As a six-month pilot to provide short breaks and support to Wirral carers comes to an end, carers can really see the difference it’s made.
Pauline Graham, from Moreton, cares for her husband Ray, aged 59, and their 27-year-old daughter Hayley. Ray has post-traumatic stress disorder, while Hayley is bipolar.
Although Pauline, aged 49, works part-time as a cleaner, her primary role for the last seven years has been as a carer for her family.
Pauline discovered Wirral’s short breaks service earlier this year and is full of praise for the way it has helped her and her family to enjoy life and escape the day-to-day pressures.
She said: “Finances are tight with only me working and bills always come first, so it’s been fantastic to have this money that’s only to be used for fun activities that help us relax and not feel guilty about spending it. It felt like winning the lottery!”
Pauline has used the money to enjoy several days out with Hayley, to visit her older daughter in Nottingham and to take Ray away overnight.
“We’ve been able to split the money up into lots of different things, which is perfect as it’s difficult to leave Ray for too long,” continued Pauline. “Hayley and I went on The Yellow Duckmarine after we’d seen the Queen do it; we’ve also had a few afternoon teas and a spa day. It’s really helped our relationship as it’s given us time to properly talk, away from the stresses at home.
“I went to visit my other daughter Christine, who’s pregnant, in Nottingham – I even braved the train on my own! Ray and I also had a night away in Chester, which was lovely.”
Commissioned by Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group and run by third sector provider Wired, the short breaks scheme offers carers in Wirral a sum of money to be used for their choice of treatment, therapy or activity or to pay for care to enable them to take a short break away from their caring responsibilities.
The scheme, which launched as a six-month pilot in April, is being funded by the government, which has pledged £690,000 a year for the next three years to enable carers in Wirral to have a life outside of their caring role and remain physically and mentally well.
Pauline is just one of the 340 people and families that have already benefited since it was launched.
Now, an event is being held to celebrate the scheme’s success to date and to capture feedback and comments from service users.
It takes place at Floral Pavilion, New Brighton, on Thursday 20 September, and will see around 50 carers who have accessed the service come together to discuss their experiences.
The feedback will help shape the future of the short breaks service in Wirral, which is nearing the end of a tendering process for a three-year contract, starting in October.
Dr Phil Jennings, Chair of Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We wanted to optimise the impact of the government funding on those who need it. By working with Wired on this scheme, we’re really starting to achieve that and to make a difference to the lives of carers.
“As it’s been run as a pilot, I have no doubt there are lessons to be learned, so this event will be invaluable in identifying where improvements can be made and developing the service further for the future.”
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