PLUS Direct Short Breaks
A story by PLUS
During the last 8 months PLUS has succeeded in providing a flexible and creative respite service for 24 children and young people and their families.
We have listened to the requirements of both parents and children in order to meet their needs. Since April 2013 we have enabled 40 parents/carers to have regular breaks from caring. We met with each family prior to getting breaks underway and we assessed the needs of the children and young people and agreed individual outcomes with parents/carers .
Some breaks are taken at home and others take place out in the community. Activities have ranged from story-telling, craft and baking to horse-riding. We have on some occasions, linked up with other children/carers during breaks to facilitate social opportunities.
By delivering the breaks we also aim to provide age-appropriate, enjoyable breaks for children and young people age 5 -17 to enable them to spend time away from their families/carers participating in activities that they want to. We aim to promote independence for children and young people, by helping them to develop their, confidence and social skills.
Tip 1:Be inventive with the breaks on offer ensuring you have a wide selection of break ideas that are free or cost very little e.g. include a picnic, encourage the child/young person to help plan and prepare this, find out where the local museums, galleries and libraries are as often they run free events for children in addition to their standard exhibitions
Tip 2:Be pro-active in encouraging families to book breaks as often families are too busy to plan these ahead and last minute requests are difficult to accomodate.
Tip 3:Families have told us they prefer to have a consistent support worker who can build up a relationship with the family/child. It is a good idea to gradually introduce a back-up worker who can cover for example during holidays/sickness.
To streamline this, it is a good idea to arrange an initial break to introduce the back-up worker alongside the main worker as this helps the child/young person to form an association and can help to reduce the idea of having to start again with someone completely new.
Emma is a 6 year old child with multiple support needs. Through Better Breaks funded DSB Emma has been able to access PLUS organised fun days on a regular basis. Emma has also gone out on breaks to the local park, cinema and craft activity. Emma is a very generous child who enjoys sharing toys with others and who loves to make gifts for her mum and bring these home from her break. During the day Emma has 2:1 support from fully trained staff who have got to know her over a number of months.
Emma really enjoys the continuity of staff and she also enjoys meeting other people and participating in the singing and water-play games See “Emma’s Story” a Shared Care funded DVD for more info. http://www.youtube.com/user/1SharedCareScotland
E is a very shy young person with global development delay and physical disability. E lives on a remote location and can be socially isolated, relying heavily on her parents for support and company. DSB has benefited E and her family immensely as the following quote from her mum illustrates:
“Over the summer holidays is when I found the difference. Previous summer holidays have been difficult as it becomes difficult to get E out of the house over the course of the holiday – she gets stuck in a rut, This year it was massively different thanks to the days out with the girls. It gave her time out and me some time to myself.” E’s breaks are planned in conjunction with her mum who provides guidance on what she would like to see E get from a break. Since starting on DSB, E’s confidence has improved considerably and she now interacts socially with other people such as restaurant staff and staff and other young people at PLUS events.
N is 8 and also has multiple support needs. Her mum said recently: “DSB also benefits N greatly as its giving her a chance to socialise and learning her the much needed skills for her daily living i.e. travel etc.” N sometimes struggles to cope with regulation of her food intake. One of the activities which has N continues to enjoy on DSB is going out for tea. This activity is used as an opportunity to help N develop more awareness about regulating food and making healthy food choices. N is making great progress and looks forward to her breaks with enthusiasm.
Most families who are benefiting from DSB have at least one other child in addition to the child or young person with additional support needs. These families often comment on how they are able to spend more time with their other child/children knowing that the child with support needs is being well cared for and having fun.
This view is expressed by V's mum who said recently: "it (DSB) continues to go really well and meets the needs of our family. it allows both myself and my husband to focus on the boys football games on a Saturday morning and give them some attention. for rest of week they always have to work around what V is doing." V is 17 and she continues to enjoy regular DSB trips on the train to Glasgow or Edinburgh. She gets on well with her DSB support worker and likes to feel independent and adventurous by going on trips without her parents. Both her mum and dad are able to spend their time with their other children and each other when V is on a break.
Parents identify the outcomes they would like from the service for their child/young person. The child/young person also has an input into the kind of break they would like, for example out and about or in the home. Feedback is encouraged from both parents and cared for people. Feedback is given to parents following each break.
Families can then select the staff member(s) they would like to support their child, based on experience and interests. A pre-break meeting known as a "Meet and Greet" is also arranged prior to the first break and this is an opportunity for families and staff to meet one another.
Children are encouraged to take the lead in identifying the correct bus/train, buying tickets, checking change, identifying which stop to get off etc. We encourage children and young people to express themselves though art/craft/baking/singing. Our staff are very resourceful and we are keen to promote breaks which do not cost money e.g. woodland walks, trips to the park, treasure hunts, hopscotch. kite-flying.
This has taken more time than we expected, as staff need to be highly trained to support children with complex needs and we do not want to introduce too many different staff at any one time. The process has to be a gradual one in order to get it right.
Often families of children with support needs have their own informal networks and word about our DSB service has spread in this way too. Families have contacted us directly to enquire about the service. We continue to ensure we support those most in need of our service by only accepting families who do not receive overnight respite onto our waiting list.
The multiple support needs of children on this project include epilepsy, cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, learning disability, global delay, hearing impairment, tube-feeding/suctioning, autism, aspergers, ADHD, behavioural and communication support needs.
Shared Care Scotland has provided an invaluable source of information and created several opportunities for us to network with other organisations who deliver services for People with Disabilities so that we can share ideas and experiences. This has also been supported through the conference and recent event in Stirling.
Each review is monitored by the Project Coordinator and any concerns are followed up directly with the worker and family. Good practice ideas are shared with other staff via the PLUS staff Forum.
The Project Coordinator contacts families by phone and e-mail on an on-going basis to ask for their feedback.