A story by Angus Special Playscheme
The 15-18 scheme ran during the Easter, Summer and October holidays providing activities to promote confidence, independence and developing life skills in young people with additional support needs while meeting respite needs of carers.
What 15-18 Scheme did
In 2019 we had 20 young people attending the scheme over the 14 days during the Easter, Summer and October holidays. Most of the young people have been attending for several years, 3 young people attended for the first time and we also said goodbye to 6 young people who transitioned into adult service with a farewell party.
During the year we consulted with the young people about what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go. This formed our programme for the year with trips to Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, indoor bowling in Aberdeen and Laser Tag in Dundee. We also visited a local leisure resort where the young people took part in archery, fencing and crazy golf activities. We went swimming weekly, to the local Wetherspoons for lunch and to the cinema.
Following on from last year’s successful Afternoon Tea for carers, this year the young people decided to plan and cook a lunch for carers. We also organised a Christmas Shopping trip for the young people in early December and a family Christmas party which was attended by over 70 children and young people.
What Angus Special Playscheme has learned
We have learned that giving the young people more responsibility and listening to them has impacted on all areas of their life. The confidence of the young people has grown as they try new things and acquire new skills to help them as they move into adulthood.
The staff have also learned to be more flexible, that plans can change at the last minute and still result in a successful day for everyone.
How Angus Special Playscheme has benefitted from the funding
The funding from Better Breaks has allowed us to continue to provide this service at a high level. It enables us to employ enough staff to offer a varied programme and to support the young people to develop their confidence and independence.
24 young people with learning difficulties will report having enjoyed seeing friends and having fun doing things they like. This will be corroborated by carers.
This outcome was achieved by providing activities which are favourites, and also some new ones, which were chosen in consultation with the young people. Everyone comes together at the beginning of the day to discuss what is happening and ideas for future activities are noted and talked about with the young people over a few days to make sure everyone is included in the final decisions. We obtained information from a local leisure resort and it was decided which activities to choose for the year and that included archery, fencing and crazy golf. The young people also decided to re-visit Dynamic Earth and ten pin bowling, to try Laser Tag for the first time as well as other favourites such as swimming and the cinema. The young people record ideas and experiences in individual journals using photographs and words. Carers were able to comment on our service on our Facebook page, verbally to staff and through a short questionnaire circulated at our family Christmas Party.
A is 15 years old and attended the scheme for the first time in 2019. He has complex needs and uses a wheelchair. A’s carers thought that the scheme would be good for him, they said ‘he was lonely in the holidays and he did not socialise with anyone except them’. The Manager visited A to explain about the scheme and what we do. A was very anxious about attending and said ‘I don’t think I will like coming to that, I won’t know anyone’. After further discussion it was discovered that one of his friends from school already attends the scheme. After consulting with the two young people and carers it was decided that the first few times A attended would be on the same day as his friend from school. In the first few days he was wary and hung back watching what everyone else was doing, staff spent time talking to him and getting to know him and his interests. Over the year A has settled in, forming positive relationships with staff and the other young people in the group. He is now eager to attend and enjoys contributing to the discussions, where his amazing sense of humour shines through. His carer shared with staff ‘This is great, he loves coming to see his friends and talks about what he has done and where he has been at home all the time’.
24 young people and their carers will report improved wellbeing
We have been successful in this outcome by providing the service outlined in outcome 1. This was supported by the comments made by the young people in their individual journals which contains photographs and comments of the experiences offered by the service to the young people. Carers also commented verbally to staff, through questionnaires and comments on our Facebook page.
B is 15 years old, he is Autistic, has anxiety issues and needs to be reassured regularly on what is happening and what everyone is doing and why. He has been attending the scheme for seven years, moving up through the age groups. Although this is the first year he has attended this age group, he settled in quickly as he was already familiar with some of the other young people attending and also with the staff who work across the different age groups. B’s carer spoke with staff at the end of the summer scheme saying that B had really enjoyed being in the older age group as he found it quieter, he had really enjoyed the trips he had been on. She thanked staff for their hard work saying that the scheme was good for B and that if he did not come then he would be bored and life at home would be a lot more stressful for all the family.
38 carers of young people with learning difficulties will report having been able to do things outside of caring which wouldn’t have been possible without respite
Carers were given questionnaire before Easter scheme and all reported that having a child with additional support needs affected their social, leisure and work life to different extents. Most of the carers commented that they use the time that their child was attending scheme to do things with their other children and spend time on themselves. We gave out on a short questionnaire at the family Christmas party which is well attended by children and carers to ascertain what carers had done while their child was at scheme.
The Christmas party was chosen as the place to circulate the post scheme questionnaire as it is well attended by carers and staff. Staff circulate the questionnaire and it gives them the opportunity to talk to parents generally and about the questions on the form. We have found that this gives us more information from carers in regard to the questions asked and general information about the scheme which can be added to the form. Some of the comments made were ‘My son likes to see the programme and choose what activities he would like to do, this means I can plan me time for those days.’ ‘I get to do things with my other children that we find hard when we are all together’ ‘I get time to relax knowing my daughter is safe and having fun’
38 carers will report that they feel better supported as a result of our service
We have continued to include signposting as part of our newsletters, giving information about local and national organisations. We sent out a general questionnaire at the end of summer scheme and also gave out a short questionnaire at our family Christmas party. We also used our Facebook page to share information about the scheme with carers and the general public. We also organised a fundraising quiz and a prize bingo night for carers and the local community which were well attended and raised money for the scheme.
The Christmas party was chosen as the place to circulate the post scheme questionnaire as it is well attended by carers and staff. Staff circulate the questionnaire and it gives them the opportunity to talk to parents generally and about the questions on the form. We have found that this gives us more information from carers in regard to the questions asked and general information about the scheme which can be added to the form. We asked carers if they feel supported by the scheme and replies were ‘I do feel supported by the scheme because the holidays can be difficult.’ ‘Thank you to the staff, it’s great that my daughter has things to do in the holidays, makes family life easier.’
Additional project outcome
38 carers and their children will report improved life skills of the young people. At the family Christmas party we asked carers if they had seen a difference in their child since we had been concentrating on improving life skills and were they now taking on tasks that they had not previously
Comments in reply to questions asked at the family Christmas party. ‘My son will now take the dog out for a walk and he makes me a cup of tea’. ‘My son is helping more with household chores and enjoys doing them’. ‘My son asked if he could make lasagne like he had done at scheme’. Following the success of our parent/carer Afternoon Tea in summer 2018, the young people in the 15-18 scheme asked if they could do something similar in 2019. They decided they would like to show off their cooking skills and arrange for a Parent/Carers Lunch. The menu was discussed in great detail and it was decided to make lasagne, stovies, macaroni cheese and salad with apple crumble and trifle, along with plain jelly for dessert. They discussed food intolerance's and thought this menu would allow most people to be able to choose something from the menu. Invitations were sent out with the menu and parent/carers asked to reply with numbers attending, to allow the young people to cook enough food. Preparation and some of the cooking was done the day before and the rest on the morning of the lunch. The lunch was fantastic with all the young people taking part, some in preparation of food, some cooking, some setting up the eating area and some clearing away at the end. Staff and volunteers were on hand to support as necessary but the lead of the day was taken by the young people. Everyone had a good time and all the food was consumed. Positive feedback was given on the day to staff from parents and carers. We also had a visit from the Care Inspectorate on the day and below is a quote from the inspection report. “The older group of young people had invited parents and carers in for a lunch. The young people prepared three main meals and two desserts to eat with their families. They were observed to thrive on this experience, taking great enjoyment in their preparations for the lunch. Staff advised that independent living skills play a key part in sessions for the older group to help prepare them for adult life. This was evident from the excellent level of independence and responsibility observed on the day of inspection”.