Short Break Hoeseasons Caravan Park
A story by CCLASP SCIO
We provided two breaks for children with cancer and leukaemia and their families, one to Haggerston Castle Family Caravan Park and another to Hilton Coylumbridge near Aviemore.
This allowed them to relax and have fun as a family, but also to meet others in the same situation as them.
What Short Break Hoeseasons Caravan Park did
We took 12 families caring for children with cancer and leukaemia (complex needs) on a four-day break to Haven Haggerston Castle Caravan Park near Berwick, where they enjoyed activities such as crazy golf, horse riding, bungee trampolining and a water park. These breaks took place in July Initially, we planned on taking 19 families to Hoeseasons Caravan Park in Blackpool, but many families said they would prefer to stay closer to home in case of an emergency – Blackpool is quite a long drive and you must change trains if travelling by train.
After six months, we found that several families were more interested in a break at the Hilton Coylumbridge hotel in Aviemore rather than a caravan park as we have sent families there in the past and they have really enjoyed it, and as a result, many other families expressed a desire to go. As we still had more of the Better Breaks grant left over than expected (a result of Haggerston Castle being cheaper than Hoeseasons and incurring fewer transport costs), we decided to send 20 families to Aviemore. These breaks mostly took place in March.
We have a strong working relationship with the hotel, who regularly offer us a large discount on rooms and meals. Families were able to enjoy some much-needed tranquillity and took part in activities such as walks, cycles and trips to nearby attractions like Loch Morlich, the Highland Wildlife Park and Landmark Forest Adventure Park.
For both breaks, we prioritised families who had not been on a break before or had a terminally ill child and therefore limited opportunities to enjoy a family holiday.
“We had a brilliant time. The hotel was perfect, very family friendly, loads to do or chill out…Time together with other families in the same boat is therapy for me and my family. Just not having to think about the cooking, cleaning and hospital appointments was great and it gave us the time to enjoy each other and the lovely folk on the same journey.
Thank you CCLASP.” – parent
What CCLASP SCIO has learned
We have developed our flexibility by listening to what families wanted and changing the breaks accordingly, so that both carers and cared for children could enjoy themselves as much as possible and that the breaks catered to their individual needs better. It was also important that we kept the breaks as similar as possible to the Hoeseaons break outlined in our initial application as we needed to strike a balance between what had been approved by Better Breaks and what our families wanted.
Our project budgeting skills have improved. Initially, we created a projected budget based on the costs of Hoeseasons, however we were able to save money by sending families to Haggerston Castle, at their request, instead. This meant we had to create a new budget in line with the altered breaks but maintaining similar costs to those originally proposed so that we could still send a similar number of families on breaks with the total grant.
We found that by listening to families and tailoring breaks to their individual situations, we built our reputation for providing special breaks for families. Parents and carers often recommend the breaks to others, meaning that more families will come to us for support in future. We are always eager to engage with new families.
Disabled children and young people, especially those with multiple support needs, will have more opportunities to take part in activities which are fun, stimulating and rewarding. Disabled children and young people, especially those with multiple support needs, will have taken part in our short break to a Caravan Park.
We sent 12 families to Haven Haggerston Caravan Park, as it was closer and therefore more accessible than Hoeseasons. Here, the children took part in activities such as crazy golf, horse riding, bungee trampolining and swimming at a water park. We then sent 20 families to the Hilton Coylumbridge hotel in Aviemore, where children enjoyed visits to Loch Morlich, the Highland Wildlife Park and Landmark Forest Adventure Park.
“I really liked the crazy golf at the caravan park, even though I wasn’t very good at it. I also liked when we went to the beach for the day because I’ve not been since before I had to go to hospital all the time. Some of my friends I met at the caravan park came too and our mums and dads even bought us fish and chips.”
Carers of disabled children and young people (and those they care for) will have improved well-being, carers will report improved well-being during and following our trip.
91 carers went on short breaks and unanimously agreed that they provided the perfect opportunity to relax with family, make new memories and take their mind off the trauma of caring for a child with cancer.
“We were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to go on a CCLASP holiday after the loss of our oldest boy Harry (name changed). At first I was rather anxious for my kids as I wasn’t sure how they would react to again seeing children who were undergoing cancer treatment (such as kids with NG tubes, loss of hair etc.) - would it stir up memories they would rather forget? Would it make them sadder to think of their brother not being here anymore? I also worried about how people would react to us. We were their worst nightmare - our child hadn’t survived the horrible disease! However, I couldn’t have been more wrong and there was certainly no need for any anxieties. The boys had a ball. They had lots of freedom to explore and it was such a safe environment for them. We spent quality time together, away from all the struggles and reminders of how we were adjusting to our ‘new lives’ without Harry. The boys could just be boys. No one knew they were the wee brothers of the boy who had just died. They got to do ‘normal’ things that had been so difficult before. The holiday provided us with exactly what was needed - quality family time and the opportunity to make more memories.”
Carers will have more opportunities to live a life outside of caring, carers will have had the opportunity to have a break from their caring role.
91 carers enjoyed having a break from the stress of everyday life. Of the 41 parents and other adult carers, many stated that they enjoyed being able to forget about mundane tasks like cooking, cleaning and taking their sick children to hospital appointments. The majority of families on these breaks had not enjoyed a family holiday since their child’s diagnosis, and a few reported that they had “forgotten” what it felt like to go on holiday and just have fun, as their lives had become so consumed by caring.
“We had a brilliant time. The hotel was perfect, very family friendly, loads to do or chill out…Time together with other families in the same boat is therapy for me and my family. Just not having to think about the cooking, cleaning and hospital appointments was great and it gave us the time to enjoy each other and the lovely folk on the same journey. Thank you CCLASP.”
Carers will feel better supported to sustain their caring role, carers will have felt that they were able to relate to and speak with other carers in order to bolster their community of support to sustain their caring role after the trip.
91 carers enjoyed meeting new people and making new friends on these breaks. 41 parents and other adult carers were able to seek practical and emotional support from others in the same position, while the 50 siblings of the sick children (considered young carers) were able to make friends and enjoy acting like children in a relaxing setting. Many of these families are still in touch with one another.
“To get away from it all and forget about what you're going through for a few days is amazing! The whole family gets to enjoy a break and you get to make some amazing memories that don't include hospital appointments. It was lovely to also spend time with other families we had met in the hospital and see how the kids are doing now. To be able to talk about what you have all been through and know that the person you are talking to understands is a massive bonus. CCLASP have given us so much joy, support and amazing memories!”
There will be more opportunities and choices available for disabled children and young people and their families, including better access to mainstream activities and leisure services. More young people and their families will have had a break to enjoy leisure time with each other.
12 families went on a break to Haggerston Castle Caravan Park and 20 went on a break to Hilton Coylumbridge in Aviemore – both locations had extensive leisure facilities and nearby attractions, and both liaised with CCLASP to ensure that the additional support needs of these families were accommodated.
“Since Hayden got ill, I never thought we’d enjoy a proper family holiday again – at least not for a few years. I heard someone mention going on a CCLASP break to Aviemore last year and she said it was amazing. I was sceptical at first, because I wasn’t sure how well a posh hotel would respond to so many kids, many with cancer or other additional support needs, coming to them all at once. However, the staff at CCLASP reassured me that they were very accommodating, so we decided to take a chance. I’m so glad we did! The hotel and CCLASP obviously have a really good relationship as all the staff were really helpful and gave us tips on things we could do in the local area that would be manageable for Hayden, who gets tired very quickly because of his treatment, and his wee sister. We ended up having a lovely day out at the Highland Wildlife Park, where we could hire a wheelchair for Hayden.”
Through sharing learning and practice, there will be a better understanding of the role of short breaks in supporting caring relationships, and a better understanding of the short break needs of disabled children and young people, and their carers. CCLASP will have learned more about the role of short breaks in supporting caring relationships and have a better understanding of the short break needs of disabled children and young people, and their carers.
We learnt more about flexibility and how to tailor short breaks in line with the wants and needs of children and young people with cancer and leukaemia and their families, by listening to feedback and changing the breaks accordingly. This meant that the breaks we offered were more accessible (as they were closer to home) and that we could offer the breaks to a greater number of families.
“Thank you so much CCLASP for helping us out with a trip to Aviemore – we had originally been down for a trip to Hoeseasons, but unfortunately Leah’s condition started deteriorating so we thought it would be better to stay in Scotland. CCLASP were extremely accommodating and we had a great time. The hotel totally serene, just what we needed. If you’re on the fence about going on a short break, I’d totally say go for it. Even if you’ve got any reservations, let CCLASP know and they’ll be more than happy to adapt things to suit your needs.”