The Strathdearn Carers scheme has been a great success. Well done Liz Campbell, Lee Hammell, and the team!
The scheme enables people to continue living at home when old age or temporary illness might otherwise make this difficult. In parnership with Highland Home Carers, locals are trained to provide a high quality service, tailored to individual requirements, allowing folk to remain independent in the comfort of their own home.
Some are understandably reluctant to ask for help. Please bear in mind that this is not a charity, it is funded through the NHS and is an entitlement. As a matter of fact, if too few people use the service, it may become unviable and be at risk. Availing yourself of this service will actually help safeguard it for others!
We have an opportunity to get an outsider's perspective on the service. The April edition of the Development Trusts Association Scotland's Bulletin contains a report about Strathdearn Carers service, written by Ruth Boyle for Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. A link to the full report is included at the end of the article but here is the relevant section :
Ruth Boyle writes :
"The local area suffered from shrinking of care services and the loss of the district nurse. The area also has an ageing demographic. While Tomatin is only 15 minutes to Inverness, none of the care providers cover Tomatin. Recognising this as an issue, Strathdearn Community Developments decided to find a solution.
Existing care provider did not pay for travel between which, when coupled with low pay, made caring for clients in Tomatin financially unfeasible for carers (and providers). Prior to the opening of this service, the community relied on relatives and friends providing unpaid caring hours (which will have had an impact on women’s economic participation in the area). Strathdearn Community Developments took the decision to work with a care provider, registered with the Care Inspectorate, to recruit in the local area. They work with Highland Home Carers who host the community care organisation’s staff and handles training.
This model operated through the following process:
Initial assessment of individual > agreement of budget > paid to Highland Home Carers > pay carers from community caring.
When advertising and recruiting locally, the organisation looked at the soft factors of why people might and to work in the area. Subsequently, one full time coordinator (on a fulltime contract) was hired with six part time carers employed on zero-hour contracts. At present, they have six clients. Zero hour contracts mean some hours are difficult to cover due to people being able to choose when to work. There is capacity for the organisation to cover a variety of needs, such as disability, but at present the clients are elderly individuals in the community as there is no demand for
a wider service.
The staff are flexible on their timings and will use their discretion to be able to take people to coffee mornings and pick up on the way back. They deliver a flexible, tailored service.
This programme benefited from ‘pump prime’ whereby the organisation put money in before they had clients so that they would be prepared when clients arose. It is the Tomatin logo on the care uniforms that has been designed by the carers so the organisation is very much rooted in the community.
For this project, funding was received through money received from windfarms but there is a need to make the project sustainable in the longer term once this money ceases. Also noted that windfarm money can't be used for services that the council deliver, but you can add value to existing services.
The community are in the process of building a new resilience centre which will include a sports centre, new hall and a base/hub for carers. They will also be opening a community café which hopes to capitalise on the lack of facilitates at the nearby Tomatin distillery. There is also a local community shop.
Why did this work?
- Well-developed community infrastructure (community council, charitable trust and development trust) with active members.
- A retired GP is the chairman of Strathdearn Community Developments so strong medical knowledge and insight into the process of care, the workings of the health board etc were very important."
- Able to recruit from the local community using local knowledge of why people would want to be employed in the community.
Barriers and problems
- Need to pump prime the service so that the organisation is ready to provide for clients when the need arises. Waiting for clients to emerge before hiring and training staff would mean a delay and individuals subsequently having to receive care elsewhere.
- Zero hour contracts mean some hours are difficult to cover due to people being able to choose when to work.