Short Breaks Service

Short breaks

Sometimes families who have disabled children and/or health conditions benefit from a break from their caring responsibilities. Local authorities now have duties to provide short break services and make clear how families can access these.

Taking a break from caring for your child is not an admission of failure or a way of saying you don't care. A break is an opportunity to recharge batteries, spend time with others or pursue a particular interest. Short breaks may also allow your child to have a change of scene, try different experiences, have fun and make friends.

Short breaks can include:

  • Care at home - includes sitting or care attendant schemes, which provide someone to sit with or 'mind' your child.

  • Day care away from home - includes nurseries, playgroups, out of school and weekend clubs and, during school holidays, access to playschemes.

  • Overnight short breaks - includes an overnight sitting or nursing service if your child needs it.

  • Residential breaks - includes residential homes, special units in hospitals and hospices.

  • 1-1 befriending support

Getting a short break

Speak to your local authority about getting short breaks services. The main route involves undergoing an assessment of your child and family's needs by social services (but see below for information about universal short breaks).

To see what short breaks may be available, you can try contacting your local Family Information Service.

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A befriending service is designed in to meet the needs of disabled children/young people and their families. Through planned 1:1 sessions the service facilitates leisure and play activities to help the child/young person expand their interests and explore, new social opportunities and build up positive experiences and skills. 
Families are allocated a trained designated short breaks worker who organises regular sessions in partnership with the family. The sessions can be home and community based depending on the needs of the child/young person and their family. Workers can also come along to family outings to provide support.

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