RESPITE PROVISION - No 3 YORKSHIRE
A story by FIFE ACTION ON AUTISM
A one-week residential Short Break for a Party of 24, who are affected by Autism.
Accommodation provided in six self-catering cottages. There were 3 family groups as well as 4 children supported by 6 volunteers and the Co-ordinator.
What RESPITE PROVISION - No 3 YORKSHIRE did
In the past year we have recruited 2 part-time staff to support the full-time Co-ordinator and provide cover for the clubs while she is on the respite and social skills breaks. Attendees were chosen from the membership of the Fife Action on Autism social clubs with due consideration to suitability and compatibility.
The cottages were in a courtyard setting, well back from the road, with vehicle access only for unloading. The site provided climbing frames and a large grassy area suitable for outdoor games and team events. The living and sharing experience of a group residential break was valued by the families taking part and the parents staying home while their children took part benefited from the respite to have time for themselves and other family members.
Tasks such as cooking, cleaning, shopping were organized in such a way that some interdependence was required in completing tasks. This helped with bonding and social interaction as well as teaching new skills. Attendees had a variety of medical conditions in addition to autism and it was good for parents to feel able to entrust their care to someone else.
Participation in group activities increased self-confidence and self-esteem along with improving social interaction skills. A third aim is to increase awareness of the needs of others through group participation in events and the experience of group residential living.
The Project was seen to deliver on the principal aim of respite to attendees and to stay-at-home Carers and family through the planned Short Break in Yorkshire as shown by the high level of enjoyment and appreciation from attendees and their families.
What FIFE ACTION ON AUTISM has learned
Challenges – self-catering was challenging as families have different needs and expectations and there was a need to ensure fairness in allocating resources.
Unanticipated benefits – long-term continuing friendships among participating families, providing much-needed peer support and encouragement.