DASH Club Holiday Breaks
A story by The DASH Club
We provided after school activities to young people with complex support needs. In the spring and summer breaks we ran holiday programmes so that the young people can have fun with their friends, whilst their carers have time to spend on themselves and other family members.
What DASH Club Holiday Breaks did
This year we have run our core programme of after-school activities throughout term-time, we had 3 sessions a week running from 3-5pm, and young people take part in a choice of activities including: swimming, games, bowling, drama, art and massage therapy. We provide transport home for all the young people to increase the respite time for carers. The carers use the time this affords to focus on the needs of siblings and other family members, take a breather from a day at work, and finish off chores.
We also this year delivered a six day spring, and a nine day summer holiday programme. The spring programme included sports, dance, soft play, bowling and trips out. The summer programme which was partially funded by Short Breaks took place over two weeks, and it was the first time we've run the programme as nine days over two weeks, usually it's six days over two weeks. The funding from Short Breaks enabled us to pilot the more intensive programme. The feedback we received from parents was that they very much appreciated the extra respite, and that they would like us to continue with the longer programme next year.
Twenty young people took part in the programme, supported by seventeen support staff, giving respite for fifty one individuals (carers and families). The programme was based at Keppoch Campus Primary School in North Glasgow, and activities at the campus included: games, sports, dancing (with a visiting dance coach), hydrotherapy and aromatherapy (with a professional). Trips out included: adapted bikes (Free Wheel North), the cinema, soft play, Summerlee Industrial Park, The Scottish Rural Museum and Blair Drummond Safari Park.
The carers reported that they used the respite to, spend time with other family members, access places they can't normally manage (eg. visiting relatives that live up flights of stairs), cleaning and sorting out their homes, and "having peace and quiet".
Meanwhile S.'s mother enjoyed peace and quiet, time for herself without needing to think about how to keep S. occupied. She was able to rest, think, and if she wished do "nothing". Having this time made it easier to manage the rest of the summer holidays.
Meanwhile A. enjoyed spending time with her friends, and visiting places with the DASH wheelchair adapted bus that her family wouldn't normally be able to take her to.
On receiving this feedback from our staff we contacted Blair Drummond to ask if they had plans to improve their disabled facilities, and received the response that they had in fact built new facilities this year complete with hoists , and an entry code to the facilities can be obtained at the entrance.
We will now be able to include a long day at Blair Drummond in our next summer programme and will be feeding back to parents the information re: the disabled facilities so that if they wish they can visit themselves with the young person they care for.
The DASH Club summer programme gave C. a structure to his holiday and plenty of activities, such as swimming, that he enjoys. Whilst he was with the club, his parents took C's brother on day trips to places that he wanted to visit, places that C. wouldn't necessarily like. The whole family benefited from the respite.
What The DASH Club has learnedThat a longer, more intensive programme whilst harder work for our staff had an overall greater benefit than the usual shorter programme. That it's worth asking an attraction what their disability facilities are, even if we think we already know from past experience....We now know that we can spend a longer day at Blair Drummond Safari Park as their newly built facilities have hoists.
To make sure we plan our breaks for when our staff are able and willing to support them. We were unable to run our proposed autumn residential programme as none of our support staff wanted to give up their own family time during the October week break. We will therefore not be considering autumn residentials in the future.