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					Ca(i)re – Putting the ‘I’ into Care Project

Good practice extract from HMIE report

 Good Practice
 The project delivers high quality services designed to meet the learning needs of carers,
 to develop social skills and to offer respite and stress relief techniques. It provides
 courses, classes and opportunities in education, recreation and therapy.

Further information provided by the agency

Name of activity/project/programme: Ca(i)re – Putting the ‘I’ into Care Project

 What aspect(s) of CLD work is it concerned with?

 Youth work
 Adult learning in the community (including
 literacies)                                        

 Building community capacity                        

 Does the work have a specific focus? If yes, please indicate below (you may tick
 more than one box):

 Arts and culture         Sport                      Health                          

 Employability            Citizenship               Community engagement            

 Community                 Promoting
 safety                    equality

 (please specify)


What impact did the work have on participants and the community?
(See How Good is Our Community Learning and Development?2 (HGIOCLD?2) 2.1, 4.1
and 4.2)

The negative impact of caring on an individual carer’s life can be physically and
emotionally challenging and often leads to stress, anxiety, feelings of guilt, social
isolation and general poor health. In discharging their caring responsibilities, carers
often neglect their own needs, particularly as the caring role intensifies over a period of

2.1 Impact on Participants

The services offered address a multitude of carer needs in a holistic manner by
providing short breaks away from caring responsibilities, peer support, emotional and
practical support, information, and educational and learning opportunities through the
context of lifelong learning. Through their participation, carers experience a marked
improvement in their confidence and self esteem. Many carers are motivated to
continue their learning when courses come to an end and are supported by the project to
find routes into formal further education/training/employment or simply to continue to
experience the joy of learning for learning’s sake. A recently established book club was
formed as a result of participants on the Scottish literature course wishing to continue to
meet as a group after the course had ended. Similarly, a self-managed Former Carers
Support Group continues to meet monthly with minimal support or involvement of paid
staff. Others carers have discovered new interests and have taken up volunteering
opportunities and become active citizens and members of the community. Carers who
were at risk of mental ill health or becoming depressed found new energy and focus for
their lives through the learning process that they committed to, sometimes in extreme
personal circumstances. Through the confidence building and empowering that the
services have offered, some carers have described the programme as a ‘life line’.

4.1 Impact on Local Community

The project endeavours to provide a service that looks at the needs of carers holistically
so that in addition to the educational benefits, carers also benefit from the short term
respite and peer support that they gain when attending courses. Such respite is highly
valued as is the fact that there can be health benefits as well. One course interspersed
guided walks in the Pentlands with how to write poetry and prose. Another course run
prior to the most recent election included a visit to the Scottish Parliament and a talk by
a serving Councillor, all to encourage carers to maintain their own role as active citizens
in their own communities.

4.2 Impact on the Wider Community

The Ca(i)re Project has proved instrumental in sustaining the relationship between carer
and the cared for. A breakdown in such a relationship would not only adversely affect
carers and their immediate families but also has implications for the wider community, as
it would inevitably result in the statutory agencies taking over the caring role thereby
placing additional burden on them.

What measures of progress(if any) did it contribute to?
(See HGIOCLD?2 1.1)

1.1 Improvement in Performance
The project has consistently exceeded targets as set out in the funding agreements and
in the annual business plan. System for managing and monitoring targets is in place
and regularly reviewed. The feedback from service users indicates that the services are
highly regarded by them, some describing it as a 'lifeline'. The partner agencies
consistently refer their clients to the project, demonstrating their confidence in the quality
of service provided by the project. The high level of participation in the courses/events
organised by the project also indicates that the users gain new skills, become more
confident and less isolated and are enabled to carry on caring.

Why the work was carried out?
(main purposes, what needs or aspirations were being addressed? How did the work
seek to address wider strategic goals?)

The Ca(i)re project was formed as a result of a joint initiative of the Eric Liddell Centre,
VOCAL, Lothian Health Board, the Community Education Department, the Social Work
Department, the Pastoral Foundation and Carers. A working group representing these
agencies, carers and a local councillor devised a pilot project to ascertain the demand
for courses which address the educational, recreational and therapeutic needs of carers
as opposed to the needs (direct or indirect) of those for whom they care.

How the participants got involved?
(How did you make contact with and involve them?)

Ca(i)re project’s services are open to all carers and former carers living in Edinburgh.
Individuals can self refer or be referred through other partner agencies and professionals
in the adult learning, educational guidance, health and social care sectors. The key
factors that contribute to increased participation are:

 Programmes are summarised in a booklet form and distributed to carers, partner
  agencies and networks, as well as placed in libraries, community centres and other
  public places in an attempt to identify ‘hidden’ carers

 Programme of courses have multiple themes (educational, recreational and
  therapeutic), addressing the different needs of carers in different caring situations

 Carers are consulted on the theme of courses through evaluations and questionnaires

 Open Days are held to provide carers with taster sessions and to gauge interest

 Evaluation of courses/events are monitored through evaluation forms sent to all
  participants after each course/event and through verbal comments at the drop-in
  or/and at courses

 Evaluations are carefully studied and acted upon

 Further discussion with carers can be initiated if there is concern over how a course
  was received/presented.

The Ca(i)re project is committed to involving carers in the planning and delivery of its
services. An annual questionnaire, designed to gain profile of service users and their
views/comments/suggestions on future courses remains part of the annual service plan.
Core Advisory Group has been established to work alongside paid staff and a Carers
Forum is in the process of being established to gain wider views and involve more carers
in the planning of services.

How the work was planned?
(Who was involved? Did you use any specific planning tools or processes? What
impact or outcomes did you set out to achieve?)

In 1996, a questionnaire was sent out to carers in South Edinburgh via the VOCAL
mailing list which gave carers an opportunity to indicate whether there was a need for
some of the courses suggested and to suggest additional courses. The questionnaire
also gave carers the opportunity to indicate the most suitable time for them to attend
courses. A pilot scheme was developed from the responses to the questionnaire which
ran during 1997. Evaluation of the pilot scheme was extremely positive and carers
appreciated the fact that the courses were designed with themselves as the central
focus and not people they were caring for. Strong inter-agency work and co-operation
combined with a targeted awareness raising campaign have been the key to the
project’s ability to develop its base of service beneficiaries.

What activities did participants engage in?

Around 200 carers participate in courses and one-off events organised by the Ca(i)re
project every year. Carers are consulted on the theme of courses through evaluations
and questionnaires. Open days are held to provide carers with taster sessions and to
gauge interest. In addition, carers also participate in Core Advisory Group, enabling
them to have a direct input into the planning and delivery of services. A Carers Forum is
being established to further increase the participation rate. A Carers Book Club and a
self-led Former Carers Support Group have been established successfully with a
growing membership. Many carers often assist the project on a voluntary basis with
admin tasks. Two carers have delivered Ca(i)re courses. Further two carers have
written inspiring articles for the local Council’s Health and Social Care magazine,
describing their caring journey in an attempt to promote understanding of carer issues to
the wider public and social care professionals. One of these carers had a slot in BBC’s
‘Songs of Praise’, televised during the summer of 2008.

How were participants’ achievements recognised and celebrated?

Many of the carers participating in courses have developed their skills in creative writing
and arts. These works have been compiled, bound together and are displayed at every
opportunity. A photo album has also been compiled. The year 2007 also marked the
10th Anniversary of the Ca(i)re Project and an event was organised to celebrate its
achievements and an opportunity was taken at this high profile event to publicly
acknowledge the achievements of individual carers.

What lessons were learned by provider(s)?
(What went really well? Any unexpected problems/issues? Any unexpected but positive

In line with the key principle of community development, the Ca(i)re project has placed
particular emphasis on proactively seeking the involvement of service users and
consequently the needs that the project addresses are those that are articulated by the
service users themselves. Through a process of regular consultation, the project has
also been able to identify many of the carers’ needs that remain unmet. For example,
response from the most recent questionnaire shows that majority of the service users
would like a weekly drop-in support service in the area where they live. Meeting these
needs has serious resource implications. Whilst the project has grown exponentially
from being a small locally based community project to a recognised City wide project,
there has not been a corresponding increase in resources and this remains a key barrier
to providing more services to more carers.

How was the work funded?
(Which funding sources supported the work? Is the work sustainable?)

The project has consistently enjoyed support from the Children and Families Department
of the City of Edinburgh Council, which continues to be its key funder, with additional
support from Evelyn Murdoch Trust. In the past, the project has received support from
National Lottery Charities Board and Lothian NHS.

Could the work be replicated elsewhere?
(where there any unique local factors that led to its success? What issues would face
others in trying to replicate this type of work?)

Ca(i)re provides a unique service to carers and former carers living in Edinburgh and is
well respected and supported by other partner carer support agencies and planning
groups in the city. Increased co-operation from these groups has meant that there is no
duplication of this pace setting project with groups and carers asking Ca(i)re to provide
service locally. The key defining feature of the project is its ability to meet the varying
needs of carers in a holistic manner. The key issues in replicating the service elsewhere
will be:

 identifying ‘hidden’ carers, which has often been acknowledged to be the most difficult
  aspect of any carer organisation’s work. Carers often underestimate the pressures of
  caring at the start of their caring journey so that the carer support agencies will need
  to strengthen linkages with health professionals

 Carers are characterised by the varying nature of their caring responsibilities,
  requiring carer organisations to be dynamic in their approach to service delivery.
  Evidence has shown that stress, anxiety, social isolation and guilt are among
  everyday emotions experienced by carers. A lot of time and energy is spent by carers
  in discharging their caring responsibilities and this imposes further barriers in
  accessing support services. Innovative solutions therefore are required by carer
  organisations in providing support at a time and in a form which best meet their needs.
 It has been recognised that a number of carers, because of their age, ethnicity, sexual
  orientation or gender, have to contend with additional pressures in their own lives and
  face specific barriers when accessing services. Identifying and providing specific
  meaningful support to these groups often require additional expertise and resources.

        Name of lead agency Key       The Ca(i)re Project
                                      Eric Liddell Centre
                                      15 Morningside Road, Edinburgh
                        Postcode:     EH10 4DP
                   e-mail address:

Partner agencies
Contact Name:    Nancy Somerville
Name of
                 City of Edinburgh Council
Address:         Community Learning &
                 City of Edinburgh Council
                 South Bridge Resource Centre
                 Infirmary Street
Postcode:        EH1 1LT

e-mail address:

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