Admissions to Transitions
A story by COJAC CENTRE
We provided individual and intensive support for children and young people with disabilities and require one to one support. We also ran a residential break for those most in need.
In additions we provided a transition worker and some sessional hours with a youth group one evening per week, and a parent/carer group in partnership with the South East Carers Centre was offered once every four weeks for all parents/carers of young people with additional support needs.
What Admissions to Transitions did
We provided four after school care places one day per week for a child/young person that required individual intensive support. We also provided one full day per week during the summer holidays for seven weeks. This ensured the carer had the opportunity to have a longer day. The summer can be a long time without a break,.
The service ensures that the carers get a break from caring, secure that their child/young person is being cared for appropriately by skilled and competent staff.
Children are able to socialise independently in a secure environment, improving their health and well being whilst achieving new goals. 6 children identified as most in need participated in a week long residential break in Scotland.
We provided a youth group every Monday evening from 6pm until 10pm. An accessible mini bus with our staff escort collected the young people from their home and returns them home after the group. This allowing the carer maximum time to enjoy their break without the hassle of using public transport or pick up/drop offs. Some use this for regular activity such as line dancing or go for a swim.
The child/youth co-coordinator has been working with families affected by transitions including disruption to family life through a bereavement leading to a breakdown in family relationships. We have also supported those parents/carers who are struggling with the move to adult services for their child/young person. Often adult services are not in place, those visited and offered are not suitable. Families are left with nothing in place when the young person leaves school. They have had a 5 day routine that is suddenly taken away from them and Care Inspectorate registration for childcare providers does not allow for anyone over 18 years to be included in the service as they are classed as an adult. So, after school and holiday care also stops.
We work closely with families and social work to ensure that this transition stage is started as early as possible. The parent/carers group continues to meet and some have now gone on to complete a 'Parenting Matters' course through Parent Network Scotland aimed specifically for additional support needs parents/carers.
C required personal care, school not always able to provide. Mum phoned to go to school to undertake this during school day. Working with social work and family, we arranged to collect C from (local) school once a week. (Normally our additional support needs children are dropped after school by school transport from additional support needs schools across Glasgow). C has now settled, walks back from school to centre, content to mix with other children and loves physical play and our sensory room.
Other children are reminded to take their time with C so that he can use Makaton to communicate. C still needs support and reminders with toileting. C will be attending a additional support needs school after the summer which is suited to his needs. Mum also has slight learning difficulties and staff work closely with her to ensure she understands clearly all instructions, completion of forms and data sharing.
When S came at first, he excluded himself from all activities and would not socialise with anyone else and stayed right beside his friend. Through one to one support, a staff member worked with S to discover what activities he enjoyed. Building trust took time, however he recently participated in rehearsals for a drama show and was able to go on and perform for his family.
Many young people are left isolated when they leave school, this can reduce their confidence and self esteem and lead to depression or mental health issues. Opportunities to get out and socialise are vital to enable these young people to continue to participate and remain part of their community.
Our parent/carer support group has continued to flourish with 8 parents/carers completing a 'Parenting Matters' course through Parent Network Scotland. One of our parents has also been nominated for an award through Parent Network Scotland and will be attending the Scottish Parliament in May.
What COJAC CENTRE has learnedThe funding has provided COJAC with opportunities to address our waiting list. Children and young people with complex needs require one member of staff sometimes that meets their needs. There is also the added element of additional training if required to ensure staff confidence and competence. All this takes time.
We want to get it right for every child and young person in our services and that includes quality and standards of care. Highlights are always when you are able to offer a service to a family, you know who really need it, and are not able to 'shout the loudest', or are on their own, isolated with little support from family and friends.
Our partnership with South East Carers Centre in the development of our parent/carer group has ensured that the group extends beyond the walls of the centre. It has brought in parents/carers of all ages of additional support needs children, young people and adults. There are now around 12 attending regularly.
Word of mouth and the use of Facebook seems to be some of the best routes of attracting in new carers and those that may have been quite isolated previously. Some have become friends and meet up socially. 8 of our parent/carers, some from our own service and some who attend the carers group have now completed a 'Parenting Matters' course through Parent Network Scotland. One of our parents is also up for an award. This was an unexpected but rewarding development.
Supporting parents and carers through the transition from child to adolescent to adulthood is always more complex when their child has disabilities. There is often waiting lists for appropriate adult services. Services are never in place when the child turns 18 years old and often what is offered is not appropriate or suitable. The additional funds for staff hours ensured that we were better able to support families during times of crisis and change.
Adolescence also a transitional period for our young people, where we have to ensure they have the right knowledge, skills, information, access to appropriate support and services e.g. Sexual Health and resilience to cope with changes to their lives and to prevent relationship and family breakdown.
The challenge that any organisation has is sustaining services when funding is withdrawn. Caring for children and young people with disabilities does not stop and the 'real' cost to COJAC to deliver the services would be out of reach of the majority of the population.