Holiday club respite
A story by Support Help and Integration in Perthshire (SCIO)
SHIP Holiday Club supports young people (5-18yrs) with additional support needs, sensory & physical disabilities & their families in Perthshire. The clubs promote social inclusion & life skills for the children while giving families get a well-needed break. The clubs run for 7 weeks per year.
What Holiday club respite did
The holiday club respite ran April (1 week), Summer (5 weeks), October (1 week) and Christmas (11-3-hour sessions) in Perth. The session times were flexible to meet the needs of the children, young people and families (half day – 3 hours and full-day sessions – 6 hours). Throughout the year SHIP supported 175 children & young people providing 9048 hours of respite. Children enjoyed park visits, drama, art, sensory play, sports, music, cooking and much more. Whilst children were enjoying making friends and learning new skills, parents/carers and siblings were enjoying much-needed respite building strong family bonds. Families have described the service as a ‘lifeline’, they know their children are having fun and are well looked after, this allows them to relax, spend time doing things that can be very difficult otherwise ie, daily household tasks, shopping, meeting friends.
The clubs were supported by 15 staff and up to 20 volunteers per day. We have a team of 25 staff and 85 volunteers in total. Before the project started the staff and volunteers complete mandatory training (child protection, moving and handling, administering medication, infection control, supporting challenging behavior, PEG feeding, Makaton, Epilepsy & diabetes training, P.E.C’s, Supporting a young person with Autism, Supporting a young person with ADHD) to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to fully support the children.
Completing this training gave the whole team a chance to build better relationships together and the confidence to deal with all situations that arise throughout clubs.
We were overwhelmed by the increased demand for the service this year. The feedback was extremely positive from families and young people with 100% saying they would highly recommend using SHIP. Their only complaint was they wanted more sessions to be available.
What Support Help and Integration in Perthshire (SCIO) has learned
•Targeting families most in need of support and reaching out to and engaging with new families – We have continued to build strong working relationships with local schools, PKC inclusion team and other third sector organisations to reach as many families as possible that require help throughout the school holidays. This has helped us reach families that may have been unaware of our services ensuring that those most in need can access respite. We have regular contact with families throughout the year to build trusting relationships between us, the family and the young person. When a new family registers with SHIP with firstly meet with the young person and family to get to know them and tell them about what we do. Together we book them into a session, the family are encouraged to stay with the young person until they feel comfortable to leave. Some families have never had the opportunity to leave their children anywhere before and need to be confident they will be looked after well. We give regular updates throughout the day via messages and photos so the parent/carers can see their child is relaxed and happy. This also gives the parents/carers something to show their young person after the session so they can talk about what they have done. Parents have reported that this makes them feel more relaxed throughout the sessions. 100% of registering families have stated they are happy with the process.
•Project planning and budgeting - We have had an increase in families using the service which has been fantastic however our overall capacity has not increased as much to meet demand. We have increased the number of families we have supported but the number of days support each family has received has been slightly less. This is due to a couple of factors, one, the children attending sessions have had more complex behavioural, communication and social needs. They have required staff support on a one-to-one basis instead of a volunteer. This has impacted on planning and budgeting of the sessions with more staff being required. Two, we (like many) have struggled to find staff. Historically we have employed our trained and experienced volunteers, however this year we have had less opportunity to do this. This is because over Covid we were unable to use volunteers within Face-to-Face sessions, meaning they either stopped attending or have gained less experience than in previous years. We have learned that we need to have increase training for volunteers and staff on behaviours that challenge, which will help them spot triggers for young people before they occur. We ask schools for their behaviour strategies for the children which is shared with staff and volunteers. This year we will be including a school visit to observe the child to get to know them better. Also, with regard to staffing, this year we have increased the visits into schools, colleges and universities to advertise our volunteer opportunities. This will help with planning and budgeting but also in the coming year give us more opportunity to employ volunteers with the skills and experience required.
•Partnership working – to us that means working together with the young people, families, volunteers, staff, schools, local communities, local authority, social work, sporting facilities, NHS, other local charities, third sector family forums, and funders to ensure we are providing meaningful support to families & young people. We have an open-door policy and have learnt that by including everyone in the planning, running and evaluating process they feel more supported and involved. We are available to our families whenever they need us, this does not mean our normal working hours (9-5pm), this is when they are ready, possibly when the kids have gone to bed! By doing this we have built strong and meaningful relationships with our partners supporting families when they most need it.
How Support Help and Integration in Perthshire (SCIO) has benefitted from the funding
Without Better Breaks funding SHIP would not have the capacity to support families throughout the school holidays. This is a time that families report their children and them struggle the most, as they are out of a routine. Their children can not ‘go out to play outside with others because of their support needs. SHIP gives the children the opportunity to be part of the community whilst giving their families a break. SHIP provides our staff and volunteers with expensive training to ensure they have the skills to support each child that uses the Holiday clubs, with Better breaks that would not be possible. SHIP has benefited from attending the senior management meetings facilitated by Shared Care Scotland, getting together services from across Scotland. It has been very supportive to speak with other organisations offering services to families. We have gained ideas, information and support from these meetings.
All 140 children will have enjoyed planned fun activities, made friends and accessed the local community
We supported 175 children (35 more than anticipated) over the holiday clubs ensuring that the young people who attended had fun activities to participate in, and spent time with their friends. The children participated in active outdoor games, sensory play, Lego, story times, drama, dance sessions, yoga, sports, music & art. We had outside agencies coming in to do sessions for the children giving them unique experiences, such as Saints in the Community ran football coaching, Jodo sessions, Yoga, TAC Pak and bouncy castles. The children enjoyed trips to local parks and visiting the local swimming pool. The children and families were involved in the planning process of the clubs which meant that all activities were relevant to them. All the children reported they enjoyed seeing their friends, some made new friends, played games and felt less isolated. Families stated that their children were relaxed and enjoyed spending time with friends over the holiday periods.
Prior to attending SHIP (at 5 years old), my son had no friends and no groups he could attend. He had not any social skills, so when we did go anywhere it was really hard. He was desperate to play but did not know how, he would take toys off other children, push them out of the way and shout a lot! At 5 we started attending SHIP and it has given my son routine. Holiday Club has meant he could learn from his peers and volunteers plus make friends. He has slowly learned how to play with others and it has opened up our lives to different opportunities. He loves all the different activities on offer for him to choose from, most of all he loves, story times, sensory play, swimming and going to the park. I get feedback and pictures throughout the day which has been great because I can see he is having a great time, which allows me to relax. It also means when he comes home we can look at the pictures together and he talks about his day. Without the pictures, he says ‘he did nothing!’ He wants to come every day and is miserable when it is not his day. Holiday Club is an absolute lifeline, without it I couldn't cope, which would be detrimental for all of us (I have another older child). I have no other respite. The service offered by SHIP allows me a much better mum (I am now more rested), I can now even meet a friend for an hour for a coffee and take the dog for a walk.
We will have supported 410 parents/carers and siblings by giving them a break to enjoy life outside their caring role by offering flexible hours for the holiday club.
100% of families have given positive feedback, stating that SHIP Holiday clubs has given them the opportunity to enjoy life outside their caring roles. Having a choice of half and full days gave them the flexibility to do different activities while their child was at the Holiday club. This allowed them to plan activities around when they most required help. 9615 hours of holiday respite was provided throughout the year, this was over 1 x weeks in April, 5 weeks in Summer, 1 x week in October and 11 half-day sessions in Christmas holidays. 100% of families stated that the sessions improved their mental well-being and gave them some breathing space to relax, spend time with family & friends and do hobbies.
We have twin sons who both have ASD, Learning Disability and Sensory Processing Disability. Prior to accessing the support offered by SHIP, our lives as a family were severely curtailed. As a consequence of the boys challenging behaviours we had virtually no opportunity for any interaction outside the family home. Even trips to family and friends were close to impossible, as this was very stressful for all concerned. We had no family in the area, with our closest relatives living more than 30 miles away. The boys suffered as they have opposing sensory requirements, which we struggled to fulfil, as inevitably if one was satisfied the other would be out of balance. This led to incredible tension at home, with corresponding behavioural issues. SHIP opened up a whole range of support to the benefit of the boys and ourselves. Holiday club provided an outlet for both boys and gave them the opportunity to socialise with others, in a controlled and supported way. This was vital as both had been excluded from the private nursery that they attended. For the first time, both boys could have their particular sensory needs met at the same time. This helped the boys’ behaviour to become more settled at home and in wider settings. This enabled us to have the confidence to take both boys on family trips that would previously be impossible. This respite was critical for us as parents. We were literally able to relax as a couple for the first time. It also meant that when the boys attended SHIP, we could get the respite that we both needed. This allowed us to do mundane things that were impossible when the boys were around such as vacuuming the house or mowing the lawn. It also provided us with the opportunity to go out for lunch or dinner as a couple, something that we had been unable to do for years. The impact of SHIP on our family dynamic and stability cannot be overstated.
Parents/carers will be involved in the planning process to ensure they are receiving respite when they most need it. Families will give positive feedback.
All parents/carers were sent out feedback forms asking them what they would like to see happen during holiday club, when they would like it to be run and the timings of the sessions. This has helped us to plan a service that is truly helpful to families, offering a flexible approach to respite throughout the holidays. Families have stated that without this service they would not be able to cope with the holidays – trying to care for their disabled child and trying to juggle family life. They have stated that knowing their child is being cared for by trained experienced staff and volunteers means they can relax through the day giving them energy in the evenings to for fill their caring roles. They have welcomed being invited to committee meetings and coffee and chat sessions that give them the opportunity to contribute their ideas and have appreciated being listened to. Families stated they feel supported because they know they can call anytime for advice, a chat or information and
SHIP has been a critical support to our family for 9 years, during this time this support has provided an essential outlet for both of our sons, and has been invaluable to us as parents. There is no doubt that both of our boys have gained enormously from the opportunities provided by SHIP, and we are eternally grateful for this. One of our sons, in particular, has changed his behaviour drastically over the years, and this is as a direct consequence of being exposed to the SHIP model of peer volunteers. He has role models who have helped him understand and modify his own behaviour. This has completely changed how he behaves at home and in other settings. I am very grateful to SHIP for supporting our family and without their support we would be struggling to cope with everyday life. As a couple it has given is time to spend together and do normal couple things which would have been impossible with SHIP holiday club. We get to have a break during the day and are ready to start again in the evening.
The children and young people with disabilities will have experienced a wide variety of activities that will improve their life skills, social, emotional and physical wellbeing. The parents/carers and siblings will report less stress within their caring role.
All children, young people and their families have been asked through surveys, observations and conversations regarding their wellbeing and 100% have reported they feel happier, less stressed in their caring role and less isolated therefore improving their wellbeing. They stated that holiday clubs allowed them to ‘have a break and engage with their other children and families, something that can be very hard to do when they are caring for someone with complex ASN/disabilities.’ All the Children and young people have experienced a wide range of experiences that have helped them to learn life skills(cooking, gardening, art, music, communication, transitioning between activities & places, managing behaviour) and social, emotional & physical wellbeing skills(sports, medication, yoga, taking turns, listening to others, making friends). These newly learned skills are helping family's home lives as children are transferring those skills. These are leading to improved well-being for families
H is loving being at SHIP she has just told me that her favorite thing about SHIP is that she has friends that are like her. You have helped her find a place where she feels she belongs and that she is like everyone else. This has been a real struggle in the past for H, it is great to see her settled and learning to make friends. Having H at clubs means that us as a family can take some time to do things we find difficult with H like going out for lunch, visiting grandparents, going to the park and tidying the house (yes sounds boring but actually lovely to do when your not annoying H!) We all feel less stressed and happier. What stars you all are, thanks.