Short Breaks for Children and Young People with Additional Support Needs, their Carers and Families.
A story by Central Carers Association Falkirk and Clackmannan
We delivered a needs led programme of short break opportunities that both young people with complex additional support needs, their Carers and siblings enjoyed together.
The project supported families to; have better breaks together and develop peer support friendships with other families.
What Short Breaks for Children and Young People with Additional Support Needs, their Carers and Families. did
In our original application we had planned a programme of family outings throughout the year. We took the decision at the start of lockdown to put a pause on the planning of any of the events detailed in our original application for the summer of 2020 as government advice was changing daily and it was unclear whether we would be able to deliver these. We aimed for October instead and as the end of summer drew nearer it was increasingly obvious that it would be unsafe to bring families together face to face.
Many young people within our families live with complex health conditions. In consultation with families we took the decision to request approval to adjust our project and move online events. We organised 2 online events. The first being a pantomime with a takeaway meal and the 2nd a magic show with take away meal and set of magic tricks for each family.
All parent carers, the young people that they care for and their families were written to or emailed with an invite to the online events. We shared these on our social media and in other support groups. Families whom we knew had not had a break were prioritised and other spaces were on a first come basis.
We identified and had 7 new parent carers register with the centre and who have received further support as a result. Normally we would organise 3 pantomime outings for families in local theatres so moving to the online platform was a risk. Some of the challenges were the IT skills that families needed to set up and join in the virtual pantomime, we used vouchers for the takeaway which the company let us down on.
We over came these challenges though by supporting carers with a 'how to guide' and arranging payments for that takeaways could be ordered. The 2nd event was organised in a similar way to the pantomime. However, this was with a local magician who was known to our service, the magic boxes helped families to get involved and for the show to be more interactive.
Feedback and evaluation was difficult in real time, normally on an outing we would complete evaluation at the time. For the first event we chose to send out an evaluation and for the other we used Jamboards so families could be more creative in their feedback
What Central Carers Association Falkirk and Clackmannan has learned
We had to adapt quickly to the changing landscape and government guidance that was coming out during 2020. Our original plans had to change and we requested to do that through a project variation request.
We worked closely with the families registered with the service throughout the pandemic so we could ensure that any families who were most in need could have a space. Using social media and engaging with other support groups helped us to identify new carers and young people that they care for and their families.
How Central Carers Association Falkirk and Clackmannan has benefitted from the funding
The Better Breaks funding has definitely helped us to identify hidden carers who have registered with the centre and have accessed other forms of support with the guidance of our parent carer support worker. As part of our evaluations we have organised, as part of our care with confidence programme, sessions for parent carers which we have delivered in partnership with CAHMS and Autism Scotland. Our skills and knowledge has improved over this last year particularly with delivering virtual support and organising online activities. One of the learning points we will take away from this project is that a blended approach of online and face to face for carers and young people living with disability or complex needs is something that we can build into our planning of future 'Better Breaks' programmes.
100% of Young people with additional complex needs who have attended the outings and activity days will have had fun, developed friendships and felt involved in activities that they enjoy.
95% of families who shared their evaluation were positive about the experience. Some families felt that the pantomime was difficult to get involved and to use the interactive tools on their TV
One of our families shared their feedback on the pantomime. They would not come to the live local pantomime as this would be too much for their son to cope with. The online Pantomime gave them a chance as a family to be involved, enjoy the interaction online and have a takeaway treat. The family said 'We would change nothing about this event it gave a chance to enjoy a panto as a family in the circumstances. We found this really good as in most cases it is quite difficult & stressful to go out as a family. It there meant we could enjoy it in a comfortable environment '.
80% Carers of disabled children and young people will feel that they have more of a life outside of caring.
This was a difficult outcome to achieve given the lockdown situations. However families said - 'It was really nice we got a chance to take part. We used the voucher for Sheila's sweets and the magic set made the kids feel like a magician' 'We were really excited about it, receiving the items in the post was an extra special treat. We got goodies to watch the show. Thanks very very much' 'It was nice that the show was interactive and some kids got a chance to take part.
For many of our families it is difficult to organise, plan for and attend events. The complex health needs of one young person meant that it attending the face to face events pre covid would not have been possible. The online events gave them a chance as a family to have a fun time with other families and get involved. 'It was really fun and we loved that it was interactive. Hope we can do stuff like this in the future'.