Better Breaks Edinburgh
A story by VOCAL
We offered 1-1 respite for children and young people aged under 21 years with disabilities and their families
Families were allocated hours with a specialist carer to use at times that suited them allowing the child or young person to engage in activities they enjoy and the families to pursue their own activities.
What Better Breaks Edinburgh did
VOCAL widely promoted Better Breaks including features in our newsletter, a dedicated page on our website and through targeted mailings and professionals enabling us to communicate with many families about the opportunities.
Families were asked to complete an application which was reviewed by an independent panel of carers who allocated hours. The application form gathered information to be cross referenced against eligibility and priority criteria in order to ensure a fair and transparent process and enabling the allocation of hours to those in greatest need.
Once hours were allocated, families were introduced to a specialist carer and supported to identify activities that the child and your person would enjoy and times that would enable the break to be a success for both the children/young person and for the other family members. 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 adhoc or quite intensive basis.
The children/young people participated in a wide variety of activities in the community across the whole of Edinburgh supported by their specialist carer including trampolining, visiting libraries, museums, parks and the cinema as well a going out for hot chocolate or food. While the children/young people were being cared for parents and siblings engaged in an equally diverse range of activities, going to the shops, catching up on paperwork, going to the gym, reading a book, visiting friends, spending time with other children who they felt can at times be a little ignored.
What VOCAL has learned
One challenge that we had not anticipated with the project was that our partner organisation would face some staffing issues which slowed down the speed with which some families could be matched with a support worker. This had the potential to result in some families becoming frustrated or disappointed. However, we were able to manage this by having open and honest communication with both our partner organisation and with the families to ensure that everyone was clear on what was happening, when and who to approach with concerns. We learnt that this level of transparent communication is key to ensuring success.
This challenge also helped us to understand the importance of having more than one delivery partner and we have for future funding entered into partnership with two organisations. This allows us to more effectively manage risks while ensuring that things are kept simple and clear for families.
Although feedback about the one to one support has been hugely positive the needs of the children and young people have been such that many could have participated in small groups or two to one support with another child or young person. As many children and young people with additional needs are isolated there is many advantages to small group work. Moving forward we will be introducing the option to share the hours allocated to reduce isolation and to maximise the volume of respite and activities provided.
54 children and young people with multiple support needs will have been matched with worker who will support them to participate in a wide variety of leisure and learning activities of their choosing. Key indicators of success will be the variety of activities undertaken.
54 children and young people with multiple support needs were matched with a worker who supported them to select and participate in activities outside the family home. Children and young people engaged in a wide variety of activities including trampolining, visits to the cinema, museums, beaches, parks, the airport, the zoo, to football, swimming, judo, and to cafes and restaurants.
A carer who supports her 19 year old daughter with Down Syndrome spoke about the difference the Better Break hours had made to both her and her daughter. Mum reported that she had experienced an improvement in her health as she was able to use the time her daughter was out to ‘just chill’. She noted that the real difference had been for her daughter to be able to do things without her mum like other teenagers. ‘It is so great to see how well the worker connects with and "gets" her.’ Mum noted that the time away is very special to her daughter and that she looks forward to it and spends a lot of time thinking and planning what she might do with the worker. The carer told us her daughter favourite thing to do is to go for hot chocolate and talk and that this simple thing is something that she is not able to do with friends like other teenagers but the worker made it possible. Mum observed that her daughter is getting ‘more confident’ and ‘more independent’ and that the hours had really helped her do that in a fun and rewarding way.
The parents/carers of the 54 children and young people will report improved physical, mental or emotional well being, highlighting indicators such as improved confidence and/or relationships.
This project outcome was well met with 79% of carers participating in a personal outcome review reported improved health and wellbeing, 50% of carers reported an improvement in relationships and 77% reported an improvement in confidence.
A carer juggling two caring roles one for her father who has cancer and her 19 year old autistic daughter was allocated hours. In the application for mum noted that her daughter really likes being busy and can become stressed if not occupied. She particularly likes going to the cinema, cafes, the National Museum of Scotland and out to cafes. She is not able to self travel (although she is participating in travel training) so to engage in any activity her mother needs to accompany her. In her application mum described that she would use the time that her daughter was out with the worker ‘ I will get me time’ which would maybe involve another family member or friends’. Following the breaks Mum reported ‘Better Breaks lets me share the caring role which gives me respite from that role which is time consuming and exhausting.’ Mum reported a big improvement in her health and wellbeing saying ‘Better breaks has allowed me to have more time to myself and as a result I am less tired’. She also noted an improvement in her social wellbeing saying that she was ‘ getting more time with other family members’ She felt that this was in turn improving her relationships noted a small improvement in them.
Parents/carers will report positively against key indicators such as improved social well being, confidence in caring, improved relationships and personal safety.
This outcome has been well met with 50% of carers participating in a personal outcomes review reported an improvement in relationships, 80% of carers reported an improvement in social wellbeing, and 77% reported an improvement in confidence and 25% reported an improvement in personal safety.
A carer who supports her daughter aged 9 who has complex additional needs was supported to live a life outside caring as she and her daughter used the hours on an adhoc basis. This allowed the daughter to engage in activities she enjoyed outside the house creating space for mum to prepare for and attend job interviews. She also used some hours to allow her to attend a college course to aid her employment prospects. She has now been successful in securing paid employment which has made a huge difference to her ability to live a life outside caring on an ongoing basis. A carer who is Polish used the respite time created by the Better Breaks hours to attend English classes. The carer noted that she would not have been able to attend the classes without the support of Better Breaks and said ‘attending it is helping me to improve myself and build my confidence’. The carer also noted she had made some friends through the classes and that improving her English was helping her to live a life outside of caring as she is better able to engage with her community.
Parents/carers will report positively against key indicators such as improved health and well being, confidence in caring, improved relationships, personal safety and confidence in shaping services for themselves and those they support.
This outcome has been well met with 50% of carers participating in a personal outcomes review reported an improvement in relationships, 80% of carers reported an improvement in social wellbeing, and 77% reported an improvement in confidence and 25% reported an improvement in personal safety and 79% reporting an improvement in health and wellbeing.
A carer who had at the time of applying for Better Breaks reported that she was very tired and struggling to juggle all the things she needed to alongside caring for her 10 year old son with Autism. Following the breaks she reported that her health and wellbeing was improved, that she was coping better with relationship changes and that she was more confident in shaping services for herself and her son. She and her son had used the hours fortnightly in quite long periods of 4-6 hours at a time. He has spent the time at the playground, at the beach and trampolining. He is a very active boy and this had enabled him to use off some of the energy and resulted in him being less frustrated than he had been previously. Mum used the time to watch her other son play football, to visit places and do chores it is challenging to with her autistic son. Mum reported feeling more relaxed now and that everything felt more manageable and therefore sustainable.
The 54 children and young people provided with a worker will be supported to identify and participate in activities they will enjoy, including many mainstream activities. Carers/parents and children and young people will be given the opportunity to make choices about the worker supporting them.
57 children and young people were supported to select and participate in activities outside the family home. This included accessing public places and community spaces alongside mainstream service users.
A single mother with a 4 year old son with Epilepsy accessed hours and which were used in short periods of approx. 1.5 hours to support attendance at mainstream judo class. The child had recently begun school which allowed mum to start her own business as a masseuse. In her application mum explained that working, caring for her son and helping him access activities she had no time for anything else or for herself. Due to her son’s health condition she is required by mainstream provides to be present during clubs and lessons in case he becomes unwell. Where as other parents are able to drop off and collect their child. She commented that ‘It is always scary looking after a child that suffers from Epilepsy. It is terrifying, and said that due to her son’s needs she struggled to get friends to babysit or to find an appropriately qualified childminder. While her son was at the class she went for a run or to a yoga class which she was normally unable to do. Mum noted the hours had made a big difference to her as ‘I have never had somebody that I can count on even for something simple as pick-ups from school’. Mum noted that that ‘things are still challenging but I have enjoyed a bit of relaxation’ and said the ‘worker comes only once a week for an hour but it has helped to make me feel less anxious for sure’. She noted that her son had been able to access and enjoy an activity he would not have been able to access other wise.