VOCAL (Voice of Carers Across Lothian), was awarded £62,000 in October 2015 to run until September 2020 to deliver a peer support service.
The service provides both one-to-one and group peer support to carers of people with dementia. One-to-one sessions help to improve the health and wellbeing of carers, increasing their confidence in their caring role and their ability to engage with and influence services. The group sessions facilitate the sharing of expertise on key themes such as understanding diagnosis, what local services and supports are available, and how to advocate for someone with dementia.
The small groups bring together carers over a series of meetings to explore key themes and share experiences, learning and concerns, recognising and responding to carers with different needs, and to carers from ethnic and minority groups. These groups are tailored to carers at different stages in their caring journey. With the one-to-one sessions, support is provided by a small group of trained peer mentors who have lived experience of caring for someone with dementia. The peer mentoring process brings together a carer supporting someone with dementia, who is feeling isolated and is interested in meeting someone who has had a similar role, with a volunteer who has been trained to share their experiences of caring in a positive way.
The impact of this funding is taking shape, as carers tell us that they are now better informed about issues linked to their caring role and have more confidence in their ability to shape services and support. They are also experiencing improvements in their social, physical and mental wellbeing.