A story by Angus Carers Centre
We provided activities for disabled children and young people to participate in along with their parents and brothers and sisters.
Based on feedback from the parent carers we put together lots of fun activities for all the family in a range of locations throughout Angus. Activities included, hydrotherapy sessions for family time out together and multi sports sessions.
What Families Programme did
We recruited an additional part time worker to join our Adult Team. The worker had three main elements to their post. These included coordinating all aspects of the programme planning and publicity, working with families and ensure they were supported to attend all the elements of the programme that they chose and to get feedback from parents and ensure the programme was 'continuously improving' as a result of these conversations.
The regular activities were sport zone sessions at two local sports centres in Angus in partnership with Angus Council coaches the activities included, the use of a private hydrotherapy pool, one family per session, social evenings for parents (natter and nibbles) Family trips out, visits to soft play areas and adventure parks. Over the year we arranged 54 separate activities for the carers, children and young people.
We arranged venues across Angus and a few further a field to try and give all families an even change and a chance to get involved. Parents really appreciated the time out together with their whole family and with other families in similar situations. We provided the space for supportive friendships to blossom and sustainable local support between families to grow.
We promoted our family programme to those parent carers already registered with us through word of mouth and by sending out our Parent Carer News Bulletins and we kept people up to date through Facebook. A worker from our Adult Team is a member of a multi-agency "Children with Complex Needs Groups", which included members from Social Work, Health and Education. She promoted the Families Programme through this network which resulted in new parent carers registering with us.
Carers tell us that this programme completely responded to a gap in services by allowing them to go out and have some together as a family without worrying how their child's behavior would be perceived by others.
What Angus Carers Centre has learned
Over the course of this first year we have learned that parents often find it very difficult to trust that ‘services’ or ‘activities’ will offer a service that will be suitable for their child. They have often had so many negative experiences when trying to access mainstream provision that they automatically fear the worst and rule it out before trying.
This isolation is often obvious – both for the child and for the parents. Part of our role has been to build this confidence with parents and make sure that the activities we have provided are very ‘needs focused’, flexible and responsive.
What we also learned is that professional working partnerships can often prove to be a challenge. These partnerships help broaden the service we offer as part of the families programme, but differing procedures, communication routes and agendas can lead to difficulties in the management of the provision.
In addition to the Families Programme, we also have services which support the parents. What we have learned is that sometimes the parents feel more comfortable attending activities/support under the guise of ‘bringing their child’. This seems a safer route into services and therefore much more spontaneous work can be achieved with the whole family.