Children and young people’s right to a short break


In a guest blog, deaf blind charity Sense tell us more about the importance of short breaks

For over 40 years, Sense has been delivering short breaks for children, young people and adults with multiple complex needs. Richard Kramer, Deputy Chief Executive of deafblind charity Sense, explains how many families the charity works with have never had the chance to have a break from their caring responsibilities, despite being entitled to short break provision.

Parents and carers of disabled children often care for their children around the clock. We work closely with many families and know from experience that carers cannot keep going without a break.

Sense research shows that both the children, and their families, benefit from respite, with 83 percent of carers feeling better able to cope following a break and 100 percent stating the short break holiday was the most significant break they get from caring.

For example, we recently welcomed 13 year old Matthew Cockerill who has Autistic Spectrum Disorder, learning disabilities and additional medical needs, to one of our short breaks to Macaroni Woods in the Cotswolds.

During the holiday Matthew was able to find new interests, build new relationships and friendships and take part in lots of fun activities from music, art and baking cakes to go-karting, whilst his mum got some well earned rest and spent some quality time with her daughter Hannah.

Short breaks are legally required to be provided as a service for families with disabled children under a number of laws. However, many families are missing out because they are unaware of the services available to them, or because the provision does not cater for their care needs.

Also, many holiday providers are less willing or equipped to support children and adults with multiple and complex needs. For example, they may require specialist communication, management of behavioural needs or assistance with medical problems. Matthew and his family were in exactly this situation. Due to the combined complex nature of Matthew’s ASD and medical needs he had previously received limited respite, a problem we hear time and time again.

When it comes to choosing the right type of services and activities for their children, parents often know what works. Families have the option to use personal budgets to purchase existing short break services alternatively, they can develop new and imaginative ways of using the money. Families also have the option of pooling their budgets with other likeminded families in order to design and purchase a short break provision of their own which better meets their needs.

Programmes like these are vital as they provide preventative support and allow parents to provide care more effectively, it also enables the person they support try new activities, gain new sensory experiences, socialise and most importantly have fun!

For further information on short breaks visit the Sense website

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