Disability Respite Programme
A story by Drumchapel Caravan Project 'The Caravan Project'
The Caravan Projects Disability Respite Holiday Programme provides young people people (under 20) with disabilities and their carers from the most deprived 15% datazones in Glasgow with access to week-long respite holiday at Craig Tara in Ayr .
What Disability Respite Programme did
Fitting with the Better Breaks priority of diversity, we specifically target young people with disabilities and their carers from the most deprived communities in Glasgow, helping them to overcome barriers that prevent them from accessing short breaks. As with the previous year the Coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic and resultant lockdown forced us to change our delivery plans for 2021/22. Following government advice, Haven holidays closed its Caravan Parks and did not reopen until May 2021. However we were able to overcome this by utilising learning from the previous years and giving priority for all available holidays to young people with disabilities and their carers. In total the Caravan Project provided week long respite holidays to 235 people as part of the shared Care Scotland funded programme, including 115 Carers and 66 young people with disabilities.
We continued to implement a number of new operating procedures to ensure the safety of our customers including:
• We were not able to provide FREE transport to our customers due to issues with social distancing.
• Our Caravans were provided with COVID Level cleans between stays by local professional cleaning company.
• All customers were provided with pre-travel information about coronavirus and how to prevent the spread of it.
• Any customers within most at risk categories advised not to travel. (Customers offered full refund or postponement).
• Caravans had increased signage, hand sanitiser, wipes and surface sprays encouraging regular hand washing and provided procedures on how to deal with someone in their group taking ill on holiday.
Our city wide network of around 40 volunteer Caravan ‘Reps’ based in partner projects were crucial in helping to identify suitable families. Our reps played a key role in identifying deserving individuals and providing them support through each step of the application.
We originally intended building a disabled access ramp as part of this years funded programme however due to unforeseen increasing in material costs due to inflation we were unable to complete this.
What Drumchapel Caravan Project 'The Caravan Project' has learned
The Caravan Project has provided week long respite holidays to 235 people as part of the shared Care Scotland funded programme, including 115 Carers and 66 young people with disabilities. key aspects of success this year was:
•Greater awareness of our service built up over the last few years of delivery of this programme meant that we continued to receive a strong number of referrals for holidays in spite of lock downs (Caravans closed until May 2021) and COVID concerns.
•We created a dedicated week for Carers which provided 15 carers with a week long holiday.
•As we did in previous years, over 50% of summer and October school holidays were allocated specifically to young people with disabilities and their carers.
•Rigorous cleaning protocols enabled us to ensure that our Caravans remained clean and COVID free throughout the season.
Operating during COVID19 has been really stressful as we tried to ensure our customers safety while providing them with a much needed break. Some of the challenges we have faced this year are:
Haven introduced track & trace system late last year which meant that every guest had to be registered with their online system prior to entering the park. This involved us contacting customers before their holiday to double check details including car registration plates etc. to register prior to their visit. One thing we were not aware of prior to this system being introduced was the number of day guests (friends and wider family) who visit our customers while they were on holiday. Customers were phoning us up at all times of the day asking if we could register someone who had popped down for a visit. This system although important for safety of guests also added a huge amount of extra work which was not normally have to do. With track and trace likely to continue next year we will be revising our systems to streamline the registration process.
Haven introduced a system where activities such as swimming, children’s evening entertainment and restaurants had to be pre- booked due to limited capacity in venues and track & trace. To ensure guest had access to these activities we had to book in a phone call with the customer to discuss times available and pre-book slots. Again this was an entirely new system for us and involved investing a greater amount of time with our customers each week. This system ran from May until late August but luckily was removed later in the season as capacity was increased.
From the start of July 2021 we switched to operating all 4 Caravans for the first time since COVID19 started. To enable us to operate safely we introduced a new system where guests had to check out of their caravans earlier to ensure that our professional cleaning partner ( MAXXCLEAN) could access the Caravans and complete a deep clean and COVID Level wipe down of all surfaces. This new system provided a number of challenges including ensuring guests are checked out on time ( many struggled for the first few weeks) and that the caravans were checked by our staff ( mostly myself) bedding changed over and foodstuff and any other items left by customers were removed to enable cleaning team to complete their tasks. Although challenging after the first month this system worked extremely well and ensured that customers were entering a clean and safe caravan for their holiday. Lessons learned from this season will be incorporated into our delivery plans for 2022.
COVID19 concerns meant that we continued to freeze usage of our free minibus service for the whole of the 2021 season. Originally we had hoped to reintroduce the service once COVID restrictions had been relaxed in summer 2021. However a decision was taken that given ongoing spread of COVID it would be safer for our guests to make their own way to the Caravans either by car or public transport.
How Drumchapel Caravan Project 'The Caravan Project' has benefitted from the funding
When we set out 4 years ago to create a dedicated disability respite programme we knew we would have to develop our capacity and capability for delivering successful breaks for young people with disabilities and there carers. We now have improved access through the installing disabled access ramps and purchasing of sensory equipment for caravans. We better understand the needs of disabled young people and their carers and have built a much stronger network of referral partners who did not know us before we commenced this programme. As an organisation we are always keen to develop our knowledge and continue to develop our understanding. Our Manager has recently attended training on understanding Autism and we continue to seek our customer’s feedback on how we can better meet the needs of young people and children with disabilities and their carers.
60 disabled children and young people will have made had fun, developed friendships and do activities they enjoyed.
66 Children and young people with disabilities were provided with FREE entertainment complex passes, providing access to pool, children’s play area, golf course etc. 66 children and young people with disabilities were provided with a discount card providing 50% off all paid-for sports and leisure activities. The Haven Craig Tara site has a wide range of activities for young people and families. Having access to activities for FREE or at a discounted rate prevents barriers and ensures a high uptake. Many young people take part in activities for the first time on our breaks and feedback from carers suggest this is key component of the success of our holidays.
Alison applied for a break for her and her family after a difficult year. She had two daughters with autism and her eldest daughter is recovering from cancer. She wrote 'my youngest daughter has a freedom down here that she can't get back where we live'. Having autism makes everyday life difficult but at Craig Tara the girls were able to enjoy the outdoor play, walks on the beach as well as chilling in the caravan with DVD's and games. 'This was a much needed break for all of us, the kids have all had fun and it’s been great seeing smiles on their faces every day. We are grateful for this opportunity'
120 carers will have will have more opportunities to enjoy a life outside of their caring role.
115 carers to be provided with 1 week respite holiday in Craig Tara in Ayr. 115 carers provided with FREE entertainment complex passes, providing access to pool, children’s play area, golf course etc. We had originally planned to offer holidays in March 2022 which would have seen us comfortably meet our target of 120 carers however we made the decision due to widespread community infection rates of the Omicron variant to delay our season start until April. The carers who did access a break found it really rewarding and a chance of a break away from everyday stresses and strains.
Nicola has found lockdown to be particularly difficult as she cared for her child who had autism and ADHD as well as her elderly mother. Taking a break for her caring role is difficult and they applied for a holiday in order to get a chance to relax and spend quality time a family. Nicola was able to bring along her best friend to help with her caring duties and also provide her with some respite during her stay. While onsite Nicola loved the wide range of activities at Craig Tara for both her and her family. When given a chance to relax Nicola loved walks on the beach which reminded her of happy family holidays as a child. She also enjoyed swimming and grabbing a coffee. 'This holiday has been exactly what I needed. The last few years have been tough and it’s been lovely to spend time as a family and I feel refreshed after my break'.
60 children and young people with disabilities and 120 carers will have improved wellbeing
115 carers provided with a week-long respite holiday. 66 children and young people with disabilities provided with a week-long respite holiday COVID19 has placed a great strain on families particularly those with a caring role. Following a successful vaccination and booster rollout 2021 for many was the first time they felt safe to go on holiday again. We received a high number of referrals from families or carers of young people and children with disabilities desperate for a break.
Angela from Drumchapel had not been on holiday for over 5 years when she applied for a holiday with the Caravan Project. Living in an area of deprivation, unemployed and caring for 2 children with disabilities she felt that her family needed a break for lives stresses and strains. Angela was awarded a one week holiday at one of our caravans in Craig Tara in July 2021. When onsite she and her family took part in a wide range of activities available including swimming, Go Carts and outdoor play areas. They also took trips to Ayr beach and a local farm park. Angela said 'this break has been great, we have had a chance to spend quality time together and recharge our batteries' I think I have laughed more on this holiday than I have in years and the kids have loved every minute and didn't want to come home'