Short breaks for children & Young People with Additional Support Needs and their Families
A story by Falkirk and Clackmannanshire Carers Centre
We provided needs led short break opportunities for children and young people with complex additional support needs and their parent/ carers and siblings.
The project supported families to access new opportunities and experiences to improve their confidence and reduce stress.
What Short breaks for children & Young People with Additional Support Needs and their Families did
Our short break's delivered this year included a small group outing to Jupiter Wildlife Centre for 2 families in August. In December we supported 130 carers and young people to attend the pantomimes over the festive period. Over two weekends we supported two large group trips (115 adults and children attended overall).
One to Inﬂatable World and the second to Dynamic Earth. Food drink and transport were provided for all of these trips. We had a fun day party planned in March, however this was cancelled due to COVID-19. Planned activities were a silent disco, zoolab, food and drink, party games and prizes, face painter and special guests Elsa, Anna, Spiderman and Woody from toy story.
The short break activities were attended by parents/carers and their child with additional needs plus siblings. Through referrals to our organisation and subsequently peer support groups, social media, our website and also 1:1 support appointments with our parent peer support worker we were able to prioritise and identify families who had been struggling to have breaks or try activities as a family.
To enable the project to be a success all parents/carers were asked to ﬁll out an application form. This enabled us to gather information to help us best support each families individual needs and requirements.
We addressed the priority area of complex needs. Successes include parent's and carers developing peer support, making friends and acquaintances which has improved their feelings of social isolation. In addition, building conﬁdence as a carer has been a success. Many carers felt they could not go out with the children and the Better Breaks trips allowed them to do so and built their conﬁdence.
Staff retirements and recruitment last year meant some trips had to be delayed. Transport for one trip was an issue but this was managed by delaying our tours when we got to Dynamic Earth. Due to the Covid19 lockdown announcement we had to cancel the planned Fun Day.
What Falkirk and Clackmannanshire Carers Centre has learned
Our project has learned to develop new short breaks activities. Instead of booking somewhere/venue to attend we asked carers and their children to think outside the box and tell us what they would enjoy? The main theme from the feedback was a gathering or family friendly party something that would be enjoyable for both adults and children and ALL ages. We involved families in the development and planning of the activities at all stages.
With a small budget we used some time researching venues that provide free admission for carers and discounts for disabilities, this helped to ensure we could maximise our budget and maximise those who could attend. Also budgeting a trip to ensure there is enough for transport and food/drink was important for those attending.
The project has taught us the importance of reaching out to and engaging with new families. We are always reaching out to those who are new to the carers centre and have not attended Better Breaks trips as we feel they beneﬁt from peer support and need the conﬁdence boost and it can positively impact them a lot in their caring role.
How Falkirk and Clackmannanshire Carers Centre has benefitted from the funding
The project has strengthened our organisations reputation. Families who have attended cannot fault our service and are extremely grateful and pleased with the trips and often recommend more parent carers to the service because of them. The project has also enabled staﬀ to build their skills and knowledge as many who attend the trips work with adult carers and it widens their experience working with children and parent carers.
100% of children and young people will have enjoyed the outings
Outcome has met the target and all of the children and young people enjoyed the outings. We handed out evaluation forms for children and young people with facial expression smileys for them to give us feedback with.
One family attended the pantomimes at Christmas with 2 parents, 2 children. As a family they have struggled to enjoy trips out as they very often will need to leave during a show or performance. As a young carer the older sibling often misses out on these kind of opportunities and this leads to a lot of guilt for the parents. During the pantomime staﬀ were able to support by staying with the older sibling during the performance when both parent had to take some time to give the younger sibling a break. Although the parents had to leave for a short while the family were able to enjoy the full outing which was a positive change.
80% of carers will have improved their conﬁdence by meeting other parent carers/ gaining peer support
Upon collecting all info from the evaluations from trips, 85% stated the trips boosted their conﬁdence and the majority agreed they gained peer support.
Parents H and D. They have two young boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other additional support needs. Upon meeting them for 1:1 support at the carers centre it was discussed that they lack conﬁdence going out because their boys behaviour was demanding both physically and emotionally. They decided always to stay at home because it was easier and it gave them anxiety taking the boys out even when it came to supermarket shopping. They found only one would go out and the other stay at home should they need shopping etc. They attended two Better Breaks short breaks this year and have felt much more conﬁdent in taking their children out and found that actually it is worthwhile trying to go out with them and the worst that can happen is they need to go home and now have their conﬁdence back.
100% of carers will have had a break from their caring role
All parents/carers had a break from their caring role on the trips as there was staﬀ there for extra support which enabled the parents to enjoy time away from primary caring role
A single mother at Innoﬂate was able to enjoy 2 hours of time sitting having a coﬀee and a bite to eat while her children played independently and staﬀ supported them. This was a break for the mother which beneﬁted her emotional well being and life balance.She was able to spend the time talking with other carers and making new friends as did her children.
Families will have improved relationships and support networks
This project outcome was achieved for many families on diﬀerent outings. For the Jupiter wildlife centre, dynamic earth and Innoﬂate, families had the opportunity to spend time getting to know each other. Children made friendships, and parents also. This built relationships with other parents and an active and lasting support network for many that attended.
Two of the families who attended Dynamic earth now spend time together outside of the carers centre and attend our peer support group together at the carers centre, both of which did not want to attend the peer support group as they did not know anyone so by going together it built their conﬁdence. They now oﬀer each other advise and support.