A story by Cosgrove Care
We provided tailored support to enable carers and adults with learning disabilities to enjoy a weekend respite break of their choice.
This provided the whole family with a break from the pressures of daily life and it supported them to reconnect with family, friends and partners.
What Cosgrove Weekender did
We provided tailored support to enable carers and adults with learning disabilities to enjoy a weekend respite break of their choice. Each family was offered £300 allowance towards their holiday and all support staff costs were covered by the Creative Breaks grant. Three families chose to use the £300 spending allowance to arrange a break of their own without Cosgrove’s support. Ten families chose to have the support of Cosgrove Care’s Respite Coordinator and support staff to organise and co-ordinate a break of their choice.
The Respite Co-ordinator met with each of the families individually to discuss what a respite break would look like for them and their family, including their preferred dates, locations and individual preferences. The Respite Co-ordinator then went on to recruit and work with the families to match suitable support staff to the cared for person. They also took on the responsibility of organising and coordinated all aspects of the holiday booking for the families that chose to have the support.
Ten adults with learning disabilities chose to have a break apart from their carers and the majority of cared for individuals also chose to go on a joint break with someone with similar interests. Many of the breaks took part in Blackpool and other breaks included a weekend in York, Devon and Centre Parcs in Whinfell. All of the individuals that went on holiday enjoyed their break and said they would like to do it again.
The parents/ carers enjoyed having some time where they were not constantly thinking about their child’s needs, this freed up time for them to spend with their other children, to go out to dinner with friends, to have some time alone and to relax knowing that their child is being well looked after relieving them of their caring responsibility for a short while.
The break provided the opportunity for them to spend time with their other son, and to spend time with each other without Paul’s needs having to be taken into consideration. Paul’s Mum said ‘It is the simple things of caring with someone with high support needs… no timetable, no constant thinking of what Paul needs now or in the next 10 minutes or next 10 hours. We had time to ourselves, and time to reconnect as a couple and as a family.’
The family also said that Paul returning to them safe, happy and confident made all the difference. It was peace of mind for the family that he can cope and this also supported the family to feel better able to cope in their caring role.
His parents communicated that it was a chance for Dan to reinforce what he knows, how to behave appropriately across situations, to respect and trust what his carers were helping him to achieve, to gain independence and to make new connections. His parents said that they were delighted he had an opportunity to try new things without his parents watching, something most 20 year olds have the opportunity to do.
After the break was over Dan’s Mum offered this feedback:
‘When Dan came home we were able to communicate and talk about what he’d done and seen. By watching him we could see that he was happy, chatty, full of confidence, eyes bright and with a sense that he had achieved something independent from us.
Dan is like all other young people. He wants to be as independent as possible, to reach new heights, to explore new things, experience adventure and joy, and to be treated like a person who is worthwhile in the greater community. This was certainly achieved on the Creative Break.
Claire’s sister said that although Claire has limited communication and cannot verbally feedback how her holiday was, it is obvious from her body language and the enthusiasm that she displays when looking at the photos that she got a great deal of enjoyment out of the break. She was able to do things that her elderly mum is no longer able to do with her.
Claire’s sister also communicated that the break was great for them as a family as it allowed them to see that Claire could, with the right support, cope and enjoy a break away without a family member being there. Claire being away also allowed her mum more time with her grandchildren. She was able to enjoy a much more relaxing time where Claire’s dietary needs did not have to be considered when choosing where to have a meal out.
It also meant that her family were able to spend more time over the dinner chatting and relaxing as Claire would usually get bored and distracted when out in a formal setting. It meant that the whole family could join in and spend quality time together without having to think about attending to Claire’s needs.
What Cosgrove Care has learnedWe struggled to find appropriate staff as the rate of pay was considered too low. As a result there wasn’t big a bank of staff to choose from when it came to matching staff with those requiring a break. In future we will budget for an increased rate to attract more staff. The limited staff members that came forward also impacted on the number of male staff available to be matched and as a consequence our Respite Co-ordinator went on three of the breaks. It was fortunate that this worked out well as the Co-ordinator was known to the families and the males being supported – all parties were happy with this matching.
Many of the families indicated that they wanted the person they support to go with someone they knew. This impacted on Cosgrove Care’s staffing and it made it difficult to manage, causing stress for the senior management as rotas had to be changed to accommodate for the trips. In future the holiday planning will take place before rotas have been organised to ensure minimal disruptions.
The Respite Co-ordinator organising the break said it was a challenge to keep the weekend within budget as many of the families were not in a position to pay any additional costs. This will be taken into consideration when planning the design of our future respite provision and we will look into alternative low costs options that we can recommend to families.
The feedback from the cared for individuals who went on the breaks was overwhelmingly positive. Those that decided to go on joint holidays established new friendships and many of these relationships have been maintained since the break took place.
The families that benefited from the trip all extended their gratitude to Cosgrove for making the breaks happen. Twelve out of the thirteen families that secured respite provision were keen to have this kind of support on a more regular basis. It is therefore evident to Cosgrove that there is a demand for this type of respite and we are therefore looking into applying for additional funding to develop this provision.