Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust are supporting Crossroads Lewis with a grant of £5,000 a year for five years.
The donation will help Crossroads deliver their support service for carers by paying the wages for more hours for care attendants.
The main kind of support Crossroads provides is the two-hour breaks, a couple of times a week, when a Crossroads carer will come into the house to let the carer out.
Other forms of support are overnight breaks, where the care attendant will stay in the house to let the carer get a good night’s sleep — particularly important for those looking after dementia sufferers, whose sleep is very often disturbed — or short breaks of a few nights, again delivered in the person’s own home.
Crossroads Lewis currently employs 24 care staff, many of them former nurses, and provide 226 hours of care each week across the community, helping 37 households.
Malcolm Smith, chair of Crossroads Lewis, said it was “a humane service” but that it also helped prevent hospital admissions.
“Supporting carers is obviously a good thing to do because some carers come under long-term stress but it’s also a very cost-effective thing to do because an absence of support for carers is one of the triggers for avoidable hospital admission,” he said.
“Absence of support for carers is one of the reasons for people being delayed in hospital after their medical needs have been met and that’s really important because being in a hospital environment unnecessarily is one of the most dangerous things you can do.”
Apart for susceptibility to infection, people are at risk of losing their independent living skills and ability to cope at home, if they are held back in hospital.
Many of the care attendants working for Crossroads Lewis, which is based in Grianan in Stornoway, are from a nursing background.
Typically retired but fit and active and this background helps give a carer peace of mind that their loved one will be well looked after.
That peace of mind is an important element of the service — as is the fact that the care is delivered in the person’s own home.
Malcolm said: “Providing it in people’s own homes is a particular advantage because if the alternative is residential respite that’s very often a trade-off between the person who’s being cared for and the carer.”
Although it is “often necessary because the carer needs a break”, if you “take someone who already has a difficulty with comprehension out of their home and into a care setting then, however good that is, it will tend to add to confusion and make them less confident or less able.
“What the short break scheme intends us to do is keep that person in their own home and keep them in as familiar a routine as possible.”
Crossroads care is not mean tested and is in the large part funded by the Integrated Joint Board.
However, it is also reliant on donations and fundraising to pay the wages of care attendants but this usually comes in the form of single donations.
There is currently a waiting list for the service and Malcolm welcomed the grant from Point and Sandwick Trust — particularly as it is an ongoing commitment.
He said: “We always have a waiting list for services and the only thing that restricts the service is the amount of money that we can use because we have an excellent workforce.
“Having something that’s spread over five years is really supportive to us. It gives greater certainty to our funding.
“We very seldom get an ongoing commitment — so having something that helps us plan for longer than the single financial year is extremely helpful.”
For Point and Sandwick Trust, it’s all part of sustaining communities.
Point and Sandwick board member Liz Chaplain said they were “delighted” to give the grant to Crossroads, adding: “The very valuable support that Crossroads provides for carers enables many people to continue to live where they choose.
“The work of Crossroads makes a real difference to the lives of many people; it adds to the fabric of our society and increases the sustainability of our community.”