Better Breaks Edinburgh
A story by VOCAL Carers Hub
We provided carers of children/young people with additional support needs across Edinburgh support to assist them to obtain an individualised flexible short break.
What Better Breaks Edinburgh did
VOCAL widely promoted Better Breaks including features in our media channels and through targeted mailings to carers and professionals. Families were asked to complete an application form which was reviewed by an independent panel. The application form gathered information to be cross referenced against eligibility and priority criteria in order to ensure a fair and transparent process.
Carers were supported in making their application by a carer support worker who assisted them to consider what would constitute an effective break for them. As the support was directed by the families to meet their specific needs and interests each package was delivered differently some were used on a weekly basis, others less frequently and some on an ad hoc or quite intensive basis.
The children/young people participated in a wide variety of activities in the community across Edinburgh supported by their specialist carer and included: a climbing centre, gym membership, social club, theatre tickets, play equipment and respite hours.
What VOCAL Carers Hub has learned
Families really benefited from having the opportunity to be supported to design their own short break that worked for them as a unique family - they were not always clear at the outset what would work for them, and staff assisting this process was beneficial.
The approach taken allowed children with highly complex needs to obtain support in a way that a group based short break would be unlikely to with the resource available.
Staff time to broker support was extensive, with staff going above and beyond to make the project a success
How VOCAL Carers Hub has benefitted from the funding
The funding has allowed VOCAL to develop a wider range of partnerships with providers across various sectors. It has also allowed us to consolidate our work with parent carers and provide a valued resource to them. Further, it has enabled brokering skills to be developed within the staff team, which is also useful in supporting other types of work such as self-directed care.
60 children and young people with disabilities will have participated in bespoke packages of support which are tailored to their personal preferences to maximise enjoyment.
81 children and young people benefited from a wide range of activities. These were brokered on behalf of children and young people and included guitar lessons, swim lessons in first autism accredited swim centre, I pads, soft play membership, piano, replacement care from variety of providers, Harry Potter film with orchestra playing at it, zoo membership, East Links farm and Thomasland passes. There was a marked improvement in enjoyment of children/young people which impacted positively on their lives, frequently experiencing opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have been able to access e.g. 'In regards to swimming it went really great, I don't think we'd be able to try Mighty Swimmers had it not been for the Better Breaks'.
A carer was awarded a grant for a family zoo membership. The carer stated: 'The whole family has really benefited from the Zoo membership. We are able to visit when and as we can, and normally stay for 1-2 hours as [*child] could not normally manage any longer. The children love seeing all the animals and we talk and learn about their environment and other useful facts helping [*child] educationally. [*child ] especially has loved seeing the three lion cubs and we have been monitoring their development since they were one month old. [*Child's ]favourite part of the zoo is the monkey house and we spend a lot of our time there after we play at the play park. Thank you again for your kind grant for the membership, it certainly has been used very well by us. It has helped us spend time as a family and has helped with our caring role.'
60-80 carers will use flexible respite packages to enable a short break from caring responsibilities. All carers will report an improvement in social wellbeing and/or changing relationships and/or health and wellbeing.
80% carers reported improved wellbeing. Carers reported feeling happier, able to spend more time with family and receive a break for their own preferred activities. For instance, one carer explained she took advantage of the time to do something with her other child and when she collected her son was delighted to find him 'having a ball'. Another reported enjoyed reading a book whilst watching her children participating in swim lessons and that seeing her children in the pool made her smile.
'It has been life saving for us, definitely helped us. We were able to do something nice with our daughter. Gave us the chance to do things that we normally wouldn't be able to do'. The carer and her husband spent time with their youngest child who is nearly two and went pony riding. The carer's son who is non verbal was supported by a private provider who would spend time at the park, the yard and the museum. 'She would walk wherever he wanted to walk and let him lead the way'. The carer was thankful for the grant and is now in the process of a section 23 assessment. She is looking to use the private provider to support her son along with other providers to be facilitate continuation of a life out with her caring role.
60+ carers will use flexible respite packages to enable a short break from caring. Carers will report an improvement in their own health and well being and/or improved confidence in caring role
Due to the varying activities and options available through Better Breaks this year carers were able to identify supports that would help them sustain their caring role in a person centred way. For example one parent undergoing cancer treatment with three children with additional support needs was supported to purchase support hours and activities that gave her much needed time and rest and also continue caring longer for her children despite challenging circumstances. In addition, the young adult son was provided with a carer support worker. 76% of carers felt more confident in caring and 80% carers reported improved social and mental wellbeing.
A carer who deals with her own mental health needs along with supporting her daughter who has autism spoke of the positive impact the East Links family pass that was purchased through the better breaks grant had for her family as a whole. 'We usually go once a week', 'it got us out of the house, spent quality time together and helped with our relationships and build special memories'. The time spent together enabled the family to spend quality time together and improved the carers mood to help her sustain the caring role for her daughter.
60 children and young people with disabilities and their carers will report improved health and wellbeing
Carers have expressed that the grant has enabled them to look at activities and support for them and their child that would benefit their health and wellbeing of that specific to their interests and hobbies. For example one carer who cares for her son who has autism and father with addiction issues was supported to arrange activities that were Harry Potter themed - a theatre show with the orchestra and a day out at East Links 'a really good weekend, he really enjoyed it'. Her son also used funding for swimming lessons to help with his motor skills .The carer intended to relax at the poolside. She said swimming 'lifted his ego'. Carer explained that she had gave her son the tickets for the usher hall and east links as post with a harry potter cape. 'He has taken it all into to school to show all his friends'. Another carer who's son has epilepsy and states the condition is 'like a terrorist' used funding for yoga classes together to help improve wellbeing.
A carer who was looking for support for her daughter to give her a break in her caring role was experiencing upset and frustration due to the limited services available for support. After some time a social worker managed to secure a support service however the carer was searching for additional supports in the interim to help alleviate the demands in her caring role, improve her daughters quality of life and her own wellbeing. Conversations took place and the carer identified that an IPAD would help both her and her daughter as she shows interest in Hindu music and enjoys watching cartoons. Carer explained the difference that the Better Breaks grant has made 'When she wakes up (daughter) she is singing and laughing'. Before she would wake and cry and this helps me so much'. The carer displayed a notable improvement in her mood and her daughter's behaviour evidenced an improvement in her emotional wellbeing.