Creative Breaks for Young Adults 19-35
A story by Buddies Clubs and Services (Glasgow West) Limited
We provided breaks at various locations for our young adults affected by disabilities so that they could pursue their interests and have fun together with a group of their friends and peers supported by our staff giving their carers some well-needed respite.
What Creative Breaks for Young Adults 19-35 did
The short breaks we held were one 5 day/4-night break in November 2019 and 2 3 day/2-night breaks to Edinburgh in December 2019 and January 2020. The participants were able to take part in the Christmas Market, an Ice Show, Botanical Gardens, a theatre show and Edinburgh Castle. The Edinburgh ‘mini-break’ participants stayed in a self-catering apartment and went for a meal out, to the cinema, the Christmas Market and a theatre show.
We are a service for children/young adults with disabilities. Initially, we select what kind of break we would like to offer. The manager then holds a meeting with the staff to see which of the young people would be most suitable for the location and the kinds of activities available. Whilst our service provision is directly for the participants – parents/carers are affected also.
These breaks are just as much a break for them as they are for their young people. Because the breaks were specifically for people who did not have any funding, this resulted in at least 24 parents/carers who rarely, if ever, receive this kind of break to rest and recharge. In addition, a number of our parents/carers are elderly and are very much struggling to cope so a simple weekend to stop and relax is incredibly rare for them.
We have an ongoing staff-training programme, which is fundamental to the success of everything we do. Choice and Control is the most important consideration with organising the breaks. Meetings to discuss the activities, individual needs, accommodation, and dietary/medication requirements are carried out before each break.
The young adults are deeply involved in the planning of everything to do with their break. This strong personal input also gives them the opportunity to become as independent as possible while they are away. We always remain very critical of what we do. There are many variables that can influence how a break can go. Staying vigilant and observant and being adaptable is crucial to the planning from one break to the next.
What Buddies Clubs and Services (Glasgow West) Limited has learned
Pre-planning is the key to success not just with this project but all the different services we run. This project needs extra time and effort as staff and young people are away for 5 days 4 nights, which without the extra time planning and getting to know the young people who participate in each break could result in huge levels of stress for all participants.
Each trip has staff who already either know the young people or take the extra time to get to know new participants and their families. It is important that all places we visit can provide a good range of activities to keep everyone involved and busy. We find that having a broad range of activities often brings out hidden talents and new ideas. Some young people enjoy activities, which their families are very surprised at their level of participation. This of course means everyone gains confidence and become more willing to try other new things.
Most parents/ carers are very apprehensive about how their young people will cope away from home. However, we have found that because parents/carers have gotten to know the staff involved with each break they are happy for the young people to have the opportunity of being away from home. The success of the breaks means parents are very keen to have more breaks and become very willing to let their young people become very adventurous. Most parents and carers really enjoy having time to themselves and being able to relax. Even those who have initial concerns are delighted at how their young people really enjoy all aspects of the trips.
It is perhaps the fact that many parents do not realise just how adventurous their young people can be as they have just been doing the safe, secure and very limited activities for years. The biggest success for all would be if parents and carers could build such breaks into their future budgets for their young people. This is something that is starting to get moving with parents/carers now asking for these.
How Buddies Clubs and Services (Glasgow West) Limited has benefitted from the funding
Having been fortunate enough to receive funding in the past from the Creative Breaks Fund, we have been able to develop a really excellent short respite service, which is suitable for all families affected by disability no matter what level of support they require. It has become a service, which families are now requesting when they have SDS/Personalisation budgets produced for their young people. The fact that we have been able to keep bringing new people to the breaks will hopefully mean further expansion to these families under SDS/Personalisation. Many families who receive budgets for their young people when they become adults have never had any sort of real support before and without having the opportunity to attend a break they would not have been able to understand just how beneficial these breaks are for the whole family. It has really furthered our experience and knowledge in delivering services to children/young adults affected by disability as it was an area previous unexplored outside of traditional building based respite. It really has given us a much better grasp of what support carers and cared for people need in our city. We have been able to develop links with activity providers who we use for the breaks and this enhances the whole experience because they are more familiar with the kinds of complex needs our young people have. We have to the point now in 2020 where it is a project that needs to happen in order to show our families and the young people that their lives need not be so limited and that opportunities are not only possible but now expected.
More parents/carers and young people will have the opportunity to enjoy a break. This will encourage them to try had have a break included in their Personalisation/ SDS support plans.
All breaks are planned with all family members fully involved to give plenty time for everyone to decide what they will do during the breaks. Parents/carers always tell us the stories of their weekend – it can be emotional yet revealing how thrilled they are just to simply spend the weekend with friends or younger siblings and do ‘normal’ things. All feedback reports highlight how much they young people enjoyed themselves and talk about what they enjoyed best – one young man emphasised how much he loved wall climbing at Glencoe. The young people always say if there were things that could have been done better as well. We always find that the young people do not miss their home life because they always have such fun when they are with us. The look of joy when they recount what they did is tells a much better story than words ever could. The success of this project is seen through how families are now realising that this is something they need consistently and are requesting these as par
RD is a 30-year-old man who has Asperger’s Syndrome. R has been attending Buddies since he was a teenager and currently takes part in our holiday play schemes and themed discos. R currently lives at home with his parents. R is a very independent, thoughtful and conscientious young man. He always takes part in all activities with great enthusiasm and always happy to see the staff and his friends. R’s family receive no support whatsoever because R is so high functioning and independent. However, despite R’s capabilities he still requires a lot of care and attention. He can become distressed and anxious when routines and plans change unexpectedly. His parents are always there for him and provide him with the care that he needs. However, R needs social interaction with friends and peers to feel more fulfilled. It is difficult for his parents to see him have so little opportunity to explore social experiences. R does not have any respite or any support budget in place. R took part in our Creative Break to Edinburgh with a group of his friends. R enjoyed all the activities that he took part in and always has his phone at the ready to take pictures to put on social media. The best part of the break for R is that he chooses everything that he wants to do. He chooses his own food, prepares his own meals and learned new life skills like managing money (with little staff input), cooking, cleaning and self-responsibility. Most of all the opportunity to spend time with his friends away from home on his own. He was able to return home and tell the stories of what he was able to do and how he spent his time. His mum and dad value these little things so much as they are able to see their develop and grow as a person. This is what makes the breaks so important as it really gives everyone involved the chance for personal growth as well and a fun weekend away with their friends.
Parents and Carers will feel the value of time together and having an opportunity to do different things. This will give them the motivation to find more respite for themselves and their young people.
We always ask parents/carers to give us their stories of how they managed to spend their time while they were away from their young people. For carers spending time at home without their young people is the most valuable result and because of this they had time to get a real rest confident and worry-free. We have close bonds and good relationships with the parents/carers and they always give us an account of what they did over the weekend. This is what it really is all about – the young people not only are well cared for but the carers actually gain the opportunity to experience their lives, families and friends separate from their role as a carer. Everyone who has participated in the past has been most enthusiastic to receive another break if they were given the opportunity and the young people are always asking when the next time is that they can go on a break.
DMcG is a 30-year-old man who lives his life with Autism and Learning Difficulties. He lives at home with his mother. D has been attending Buddies for many years and currently takes part weekly in Monday evening Youth Club where is afforded a short opportunity to meet up with friends and take part in various sociable activities with his peers. D is very sociable and extremely independent. He is very friendly and has an extremely warm and genuine personality. He sometimes needs a little encouragement to come out of his shell but once he is comfortable and trusts you he is very open. D although can appear quiet can let his competitive nature shine during sporting activities – particularly when playing basketball and football. However, D’s family receives no social work support whatsoever and pays for his Youth Club sessions out of his own pocket. He has no other support and does not have any other respite opportunities so therefore, his life is sometimes very limited and his mum is his primary care giver. Through the Creative Breaks fund, D was able to go on our trip to Edinburgh in November last year. D took part in various activities and outings. Edinburgh Castle, Christmas Markets, Botanical Gardens, a theatre trip and meals out. D helped with the shopping, preparing his own meals and menus on the nights. His competitive side was also stimulated when having a game night with his friends in the apartment. D’s mum never has any respite from her caring duties and has little other support available so this was the first weekend in a very long time that she had to herself. It is the simplest things that people tend to enjoy most – a lie in, meeting friends and taking some well-earned alone time to rest and recharge. They are always so grateful for the support they get. D is very much looking forward to the next time he will be allowed to take part in another break.
Carers will feel less anxious knowing that their young person is with qualified staff who understand and know their young person’s needs and abilities so that they can have a well-deserved break where that can take part in their daily tasks and routines that can sometimes become quite challenging an
Before we began these projects parents would tell us that without more support they felt that they would be unable to continue to sustain the level of care needed when their young people have no outlets or time away from them. All of our young people have very heart wrenching stories and we find that they can become very socially isolated particularly when they leave school and engaging activities are much more difficult to come by. This has a very negative influence on the home life because behavior's become more challenging. The carers are the ones who receive the short end of the stick. We have run this project since 2011, it has grown so very popular, and families are always asking when the next one will be. Through funds, we have been lucky enough to sustain this project as it was not something ever thought possible but now that parents know that this is something they need on a regular basis they are now making their voices heard with social work departments.
ZR is a 33-year-old who benefits from going on Creative Breaks organised by Buddies Clubs and Services. Z has autism and epilepsy and often experiences high levels of anxiety. Z lives with her mother and father who care for her on a full-time basis. Z’s older brother also has autism. These breaks provide Z’s parents, who are both in their early 70’s, with temporary rest from their caregiving duties to rest, recharge and spend time together. Without access to respite, it is likely that Z’s parents would experience increased levels of stress and exhaustion. Z’s parents are consulted on all aspects of adventure breaks prior to booking to ensure they are comfortable with the arrangements. They are also invited to meet with staff prior to each trip to discuss Z’s needs. These holidays are important as they provide Z with opportunities to socialise with friends. At Buddies, Z has developed friendships for life with her peers and thoroughly enjoys spending time with them, therefore these breaks are planned with that in mind. Z also knows the members of staff who support her during these short holidays due to the quality time spent with them five days a week during Buddies’ outreach and youth club services. Z is allocated 1:1 staffing on these short holidays to ensure all her physiological, safety, social and esteem needs are met. During these breaks, Z is given the opportunity to relax and unwind in an environment she is comfortable in. These breaks are tailored to Z’s needs and interests; Z enjoys city breaks and has visited places like Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Newcastle and Blackpool. During these breaks, Z is encouraged to choose her own activities in advance, which often include spa days, outdoor walks and visits to restaurants. Z has also had the opportunity to visit more tranquil locations, including Aviemore and Lochgoilhead, where she has spent her time visiting local attractions and taking boat trips. Creative Breaks allow Z to make good memories. Routine and structure are essential to Z’s happiness and wellbeing, which is why these breaks are important to her. They give Z planned time away from home to engage in activities and experiences she cannot access every day. During these holidays, Z is encouraged to try new things and be more independent with support and guidance from staff. Z is fond of documenting her memories, therefore members of staff working with her on adventure breaks write dairy entries for each day. These entries are written with input from Z, who likes to re-read them during the breaks and when she gets home. As an organisation, it is important for Buddies Clubs and Services to know the services we provide have a positive impact on the families we support. Feedback from Z and her parents regarding Creative Breaks is always positive and the appreciation they have for staff is abundantly clear. Without the Creative Breaks, neither Z nor her parents would have access to overnight respite. All in all, Creative Breaks make all the difference by providing essential breathing space for all involved.