A story by C.O.J.A.C.
The Fair Play Project provided high staff support for children with complex and multiple disabilities during school holiday 5 days, 6 hours for 8 weeks. Also we sustained a young adult group one evening per week with door to door transport with staff escort for 34 weeks of the year.
The project is based in Castlemilk in Glasgow.
What Fair Play did
Children and Young people's service (up to 18 years): C.O.J.A.C. provided a full summer holiday programme, 5 days per week for 7 weeks during summer 2021. This was for 15 children per day. Every day we had mini bus transport (3 mini buses to allow for staff physical distancing) going out to places as restrictions eased. The weather was really hot some weeks and this made trips to parks, beaches and farm parks a lot more enjoyable.
Additional funding allowed us to provide free food, fruit, snacks & drinks for all the children attending each day. Other funding ensured that parents/carers did not have any extra costs for entrance or trip fees. One memorable trip was out on the Glasgow City Tour bus for two hours exploring the sights from the top of a double decker bus in the sun!
Our October week 2021 went ahead as planned, with similar transport and trips as previous, including free food, fruit, snacks and drinks with no additional trip costs for parents/carers.
The Young adult group: This continued on a Monday evening and moved to a Wednesday evening when we were closed for holiday Mondays. This was for 12 young adults, with transport and COJAC escort to and from home for 34 weeks of the year between 6pm and dropping off at home from 9pm. The group enjoyed a range of activities, including seasonal events, such as arts and crafts, sport and physical activities in our sports hall, Halloween, pumpkin carving, fireworks, fruit kebabs, cold baking, quizzes, watching Scotland play, planning a European Football league all physically distanced, following all the guidance at that time. Our Christmas event took place prior to further lockdowns over the festive season. The adults enjoyed a 3 course meal and disco in a pub/club in Rutherglen. All adults were collected from home & returned ensuring they had a fantastic night with their peers whilst providing a full evening break for their parents/carers.
All activities with children and young adults have been delivered face to face. This was vital for parents/carers. Better Breaks part funding enabled us to bring in other funds allowing us to deliver a bigger project for more children.
What C.O.J.A.C. has learned
During the last two years through the pandemic, we had to focus on Scottish Government, Care Inspectorate and Public Health guidance, which reiterated that our work should focus on those families that are vulnerable, key workers and children with complex support needs. Therefore, places were allocated to those families and carers first. In particular, we look at the family and what other services they have in place, other siblings in the family, family support and needs of the parents/carers.
We continue to have increased administration, reporting to Care Inspectorate, reading Public Health and Scottish Government guidance and ensuring staff testing and reporting. This has been again, another tiring year for staff working in social care. In addition, managing staff holidays, sickness and isolation periods has been challenging for the delivery of the project.
We are finding, similar to the majority of social care providers, recruitment and retention has become a job in itself, every year. The issue of increased pay for adult social care is only reflected for those who are commissioned by the local authority and is not mirrored with those working with children and young people.
Mostly, due to the provision of in kind transport, our children and young people were out on a trip every day. In particular, since places have started to re open. This ensures that our children and young people are outside, being physically active supporting them mentally and emotionally after the lockdown.
How C.O.J.A.C. has benefitted from the funding
The funding from Better Breaks partly funds our holiday programme and we utilise other sources to offer an all inclusive activities project for a greater number of families and carers. The additional funding included, Glasgow Communities Fund, The Robertson Trust, Glasgow Holiday Food Programme and Glasgow Community Planning Playscheme Grant. We are increasingly finding demand from South Lanarkshire area, which is an area we will look into it in terms of future funding applications. In terms of skills and knowledge, after working continuously through lockdowns and a global pandemic, our ability to adapt quickly has shown through and something that we are be proud of.
Four to Eight multiple support needs children will be attending 5 days per week. This will reduce their isolation and enable them to participate in fun activities during school holidays.
As this project ran for 9 months not 12 months due to an extension from the previous year,(and a reduction in funding) the children's project does not include the mid term or Spring holiday break in 2022. We provided a session of 7 hours per day, 5 days per week instead of 6 hours per day, utilising funding from other sources. We had 6 children/young people with our Better Breaks funding that required one to one staff support. This allowed 11 parents/carers to get a break during the school holidays. We provided our young adult group every Monday (or Wednesday if it was a Monday public holiday) for 12 (increase from original ten) young adults for 34 weeks. This provided 21 carers with respite one evening per week.
L is 9 years old and mum is a lone parent, with no contact with L's dad. L attends a Glasgow additional support needs school attending C.O.J.A.C. 2 days after school and two days per week during school holidays. L has complex autism, learning disability, non verbal and requires personal care as he is not toilet trained. L displays behaviour that challenges, particularly towards adults and throwing toys at other children. L requires 2 staff with personal care due to physically hitting and biting staff. Staff had been working with mum, social work and school as mum was struggling at home with the behaviour and refusal to leave the house. COJAC provided some home care support to support mum in the mornings getting L dressed, breakfast and getting to C.O.J.A.C. as part of our holiday programme until Social Work installed a home care service.
8 parent/carers will have opportunities for respite, go to the shops or hairdressers. Whatever gives them a break from caring one or more days per week during school holidays. It will also allow them to spend quality time with their other children/young people.
We provided 6 children access to our summer and October week holiday provision 7 hours per day for 8 weeks, 7 weeks in summer and one week in October 2021. 11 parents/carers were provided with a break from caring during school holidays, or time to spend with their other children. With additional funding from other sources, we were able to provide a full holiday programme with free food, fruit, water and snacks, free trips and outings and Better Breaks funding supported individual staff support for some of our children. We provided 12 young adults with an independent evening out from home for 34 weeks enabling them to socialise with their peers. We ensured 21 parents/carers had one evening per week free of their responsibilities and provided escorted transport to and from home to ensure they did not have the stress of dropping off and picking up. This, particularly supports those parent/carers who do not drive.
J is five years old, an only child with both parents now passed away. The maternal grandmother is the kinship carer for J. Unfortunately, gran is seriously ill and has become too frail to continue to look after J full time. His 2 aunts are helping out. J has development delay, non verbal, and can self harm through hitting himself. J finds comfort in eating and staff are working with him with PECS cards to encourage him with his behaviour and communication. The family have not used any communication methods at home to date, so this is all new to J. J has been assessed as being around 2 years old and we are currently providing one to one staff support, which Better Breaks funding is supporting. The family are currently looking at increasing J's time at C.O.J.A.C. after school and during the school holidays, if funding permits.
We will be continuing to support parent/carers in their caring role, providing advice, family support and work in a coordinated way with other organisations in the public and third sector.
We provided a respite and caring break for 32 parents/carers for their child or young adult either through our holiday programme or young adult evening group. Staff had the time to attend schools for case reviews and to visit schools prior to the child attending C.O.J.A.C. to gain a better understanding of the child's individual needs as part of our admissions process. This ensured that we continued to work within the ecological world of the child. Staff had time to let young adult's parents/carers visit the centre as part of the admissions process allowing parents/carers the opportunity to ask questions and be reassured about the provision, resources and care that C.O.J.A.C. provides. Staff liaise with Social Work and Health to ensure that we are all working in a coordinated way with the carer, child and young adult at the centre. The Senior Social Worker was able to provide individual family/carer support when required.
L has a complex learning disability and is deaf. L is non verbal and uses signing to communicate. L had undergone a traumatic experience when her mother died suddenly. Mum did all her support, getting her to places and so forth whilst dad worked full time. L became upset when leaving her dad and was worried that if she left him, dad might not be there when she gets home. At first, L was upset at being left at C.O.J.A.C. by her dad in the evenings and was always asking to go home. However, slowly with individual staff support with lots of story telling of what is going to happen, what is next, and when it is time for L to be collected by her dad. Progress has been made and L is beginning to settle into the group and take part in the activities. This provides dad with respite and a break from caring in the evening once a week allowing him vital time to have a social life.
8-16 parent/carers will have reduced stress and anxiety, as they can confidently leave their child/young person with COJAC as they know they will be cared for appropriately, equally and respectfully. Twenty parents/carers will have time for a break without drop off or collecting at our young adult group.
11 parents and carers had an opportunity during the school holidays to have time to themselves or spend time with their other children who often feel neglected as the family/carer focus can be more with the child/young person with additional support needs. The children were provided with one to one support or two to one when required to ensure that we could meet individual needs. Many parents/carers are delighted and relieved that they can leave their child knowing that their child will be supported and cared for and can enjoy their break. 12 young adults attend our Monday evening group and they enjoy that independent time out from home and the opportunity to be with their peers undertaking activities that their non disabled peers take for granted. This reduces their isolation and provides their carer with an opportunity to do something for themselves.
R is a young women who has a learning disability, epilepsy, and recently has been diagnosed with mental health issues. R had been placed in a secure hospital, but then returned to C.O.J.A.C. with short visits with her mum. R was not interacting with anyone, but staff reassured mum that they would continue to provide support so that R would be comfortable and confident about returning to C.O.J.A.C.. Staff have worked with R to participate in activities and have went from 15 minutes to 30 minutes and this is continually being worked on as R still prefers to sit with staff and continues to limit time being with other members of the group. Mum is delighted that she has got vital respite and that R is not isolated day and night at home.