A story by Crossroads Orkney
From the 8th to the 26th of July we provided nine days (four and a half hours a day) of activities and outings over three weeks for 15 children with additional needs.
They enjoyed activities such as arts and crafts, swimming, the very popular play pod (scrap store), drama, sports day, outdoor games, cinema, roller skating and many more.
We provided transport to four children to ensure their inclusion. As we work in partnership with the local authority we provided 6 play scheme attendants this year who had a week of training prior to the start.
We wanted it to be fun for the children and a chance for them to have social interaction with their peers. We also saw it as an opportunity to provide respite care to the parents and siblings of the children. We aimed at providing nine days of activities and outings over a three week period. We also wanted to provide for geographically isolated children as we are a rural area.
Tip 1:Get as much information as you can about the child.
Tip 2:Give as much information as you can to the workforce both about the child and through training.
Tip 3:The venue is very important it needs to be well resourced and safe with a good outdoor facility.
Child B is a young girl with moderate to severe autism, she finds it very difficult to mix with her peer group as she has limited social skills and challenging behaviour. A play scheme assistant provided one to one support which enabled her to participate in group activities and enjoy the outings in the community. When she found it difficult to cope she could go to the quiet room with her assistant and have some time out.
Child C is on the autistic spectrum and she lives with her grandparents in a remote rural area. She has no friends close by to play with and granny was waiting for a knee operation so was limited in what she could do in the form of entertainment. Attending the play scheme meant she had an opportunity to see some of her friends from school and take part in the activities that she enjoys. We also provided the transport to get her there otherwise she wouldn't have been able to attend.
Parent B is the mother of a young boy on the autistic spectrum. This family has had a traumatic year with re-locating home twice and the child being excluded from school due to behavioural issues. His two younger siblings have been affected by his behaviour too and are both quite upset and fearful at times. With the child being at the play scheme the family have had time to relax and recharge themselves for his return. There was also issued regarding getting him to the scheme as he would not leave his mother when she tried to drop him off this was making mother very anxious. We put in transport to take him which worked a treat, he attended and enjoyed the scheme and didn't want to leave on the last day.
Parent C is an older mother of a young child with down syndrome and challenging behaviour. She finds looking after her child very demanding hard work and admits she would not have the energy to do so over the holiday period without help. She finds the three weeks we offer a huge benefit in coping with the holidays.
F. said she relies very much on the play scheme as she also has her husband to look after. She likes to get out to visit her own aging mother but cant leave the child with her husband as he is not fit to cope with him. By the child attending the scheme everyone gets a bit of what they want and need, which keeps everything ticking over nicely.
P. said that looking after her severely autistic daughter demands most of her time. She also has a younger son whose needs often get neglected. The play scheme allows her time to spend with him on their own and she says she now feels much less guilty about not spending time with him. It also means a break for her son who bears the brunt of lots of behavioural issues.
This year we had the play pod where the children were encouraged to use their imaginations and be innovative in their play using scrap materials, this was a great success. We tried to engage the parents by having an open day before the start to let them see the facilities and a chance to voice any concerns they may have. They were offered a home visit if they preferred.
The parents, as well as the open day, are offered a home visit to discuss their childs needs. Each child also had a diary to carry back and forth everyday to keep everyone in touch. Children are allocated the right amount of support for their needs e.g group, one to one etc.
There is an evaluation of the service at the end of the scheme whereby the parents and children have a chance to feedback on planning for the coming year
The play pod was another activity that encouraged them to use their imaginations, it was also an opportunity for them to work together to create some brilliant structures.
We feel is was worth it to ensure everyone was confident in providing the required care. As it turned out they were an excellent team which blended in with the local authority's team very well making a very successful play scheme this year. None of the staff had training in MIDAS to use the minibus to transport the children. We used two of our Crossroads Care Attendants to provide the transport, again it cost us a bit extra but it meant no child was excluded.
There was also facilities for children who came to a point where they needed time to wind down, we had a good staffing ratio meaning no strain was put on staff or the children.
The process is relatively easy and I like the new reporting system. The only thing I would say is that because we are working with small numbers I feel 2 case studies would be easier to report than 3.
The staff were also asked the same questions. When we visit our clients every six months we again ask how the scheme has benefited them.