Last year we undertook a survey of parents and carers across the borough on the subject of Short Breaks.
Short Breaks are designed to provide opportunities for children and young people with disabilities to spend time apart from their primary carers. They should be positive experiences for the child or young person whilst also giving their carers a rest from caring duties. A high proportion of these short breaks are funded by the Royal Borough of Greenwich either directly or via permission for parents to use their direct payments.
We asked parents all about when they would prefer Short Breaks, and what sort of activities their child would like. Over 150 parents across the spectrum of location, age and needs of child gave their views and the summary of results can be seen here. The results have been given to Children’s Services, where they are currently informing future commissioning and service provision. They have also been discussed with Charlton Athletic Community Trust who are tasked with delivering many Short Break opportunities. Thanks to all parents and carers who gave up their time to give us their views which are so valuable.
Short breaks survey 1
Breakdown of parents by type of school: special school/mainstream: 60/40% approx
Over 80% in 5-15 group and over 60% in 5-11
The vast majority have a learning difficulty with autism and communication difficulties most prevalent.
During term time most parents are looking for weekend activities with after school activities the next priority. Overnights and weekdays are less desirable although a number of parents still would like these options.
During the holidays the results are more evenly spread suggesting parents are looking for more options, weekdays are by far the most popular times. There’s less interest in weekends and also more interest in than in term time for overnight options.
Comments and themes
There’s not enough for 5-11 age group, vulnerable children need more support, parents want to access mainstream summer play-schemes and feel excluded form these, transport should be offered more frequently, the difficulty of finding clubs and resources for children with ASD who need routine, no information on how to spend direct payments on Short Breaks, activities clumped together in one part of borough and not evenly spread. There’s very little for children with challenging behaviour. Parents need confidence in staff training. Parents need to have total trust in the carers of their children on Short Breaks and would prefer people they know, LSAs or TAs from their own school.
Short breaks survey 2
Breakdown of parents by type of school: mainstream/secondary school approx 35/65 % approx.
Over 75% of children in the 5-15 category
More than half in 5-11 category
The vast majority have a learning difficulty with autism and communication difficulties most prevalent. A third identified their child as having challenging behaviour.
What type of short break?
Overwhelmingly people want activities which take the child out of the home and enjoy a focus; a hobby or an activity of their choice or organised achievement groups such as Brownies or Scouts. This was the highest priority category for almost 70% of respondents. It’s important to parents that their child has a go at trying new things and specific activities that broaden their skills and experiences. In line with this special interest clubs are also high priorities.
The second Short Break type to receive a mostly high priority preference was that of group activities which are just for young people with disabilities. This reflects parents’ concerns that we have noted about making sure their vulnerable children are safe and their practical needs met. Many parents are concerned about safety and this is for socially vulnerable children as well as those needing a lot of physical, communication or medical support.
Parents are interested in after school clubs and activities but want these to have purpose and be based around specific activities and hobbies.
Parents seem attach less priority to overnight stays, or 1:1 care in their own home. There was some moderate interest in pooling resources with other families but mainly in the context of special interest activities.
Activities – what type?
Parents were given a list of ideas for activities. The most popular activities in our survey group in order of preference:
1 – computing
2 – arts
3 – cooking
4 – sports
5 – crafts
Individual sports are preferred over team sports.
Respondents were less interested in camps, film, photography, youth clubs
Respondents were uninterested in spa/beauty treatments.
Respondents own suggested activities
Swimming was most popular by a long way, followed by music, especially instrumental music and outdoor activities. Overall parents seem very interested in getting children out of the house into the open air or swimming pool, exploring and/or having new physical and sensory experiences. Animals from riding to animal petting are popular.
Suggestions for Short Breaks specifically for the 16-25 age group:
Haven holiday camp residential
PGL three day trips with activities
A youth club where they can meet weekly but access summer camp trips and visits.
Anything active like swimming, wall climbing, bowling etc
Visiting the cinema, theatre, sports events etc: eg Squids at the Albany theatre is very popular and very oversubscribed.
If you want to know how the provision of Short Breaks in Greenwich is currently organised, and how to access these opportunities, click on the link to the Royal Greenwich Short Breaks statement below:
Let’s keep the conversation going so that we can make sure the Short Breaks on offer match what you need and want. Tell us by email, post your views below or talk to us at one of our free events.