Having a break: good practice in short breaks for families with children who have complex health needs and disabilities
- Disabled children want to lead ordinary lives. Relationships with their families and friends are very important to them. They do not always want to have breaks without their families and away from home.
- Parents of disabled children want practical, flexible help and a break from the physical and emotional demands of caring for their child. They often wish that their relationship with their disabled child could be more ‘ordinary’ and they did not always have to perform caring or nursing roles.
- Traditionally, services providing short breaks have focused on residential care solely for the disabled child. New types of short break are better at meeting the needs of the whole family. They are flexible and offer many different kinds of support.
- The new models of short breaks have the following positive characteristics:
- they are flexible and responsive to the whole family’s needs
- they can be based at home or in the community
- they ensure continuity of care
- they offer stimulating and educational activities
- they are family-centred
- they support parents
- they are distinct from healthcare services.
- There are many reasons for developing these new kinds of service, including:
- Parents’ expectations have changed. They now want services to offer more rewarding experiences for their children that will further their child’s development. Parents are also more willing to ask for the help they need.
- There is high demand for these new kinds of service because they are much better at meeting families’ needs.
- The new commissioning arrangements for health and social care offer many more opportunities for funding the development of imaginative and innovative practice.
More research is needed to establish the financial costs and benefits of these new models of service, but experience to date suggests they result in better quality service provision without incurring additional costs.