A Break for Parents With Children Who Have Special Needs and Social Care

What Is Social Care?

Social care is a term defined as a form of personal care and other types of practical assistance for adults, young people and children who require additional support.  The support can include assistance from the local health services.  Local authorities and health bodies are expected to operate together to meet the health requirements of disabled children; however, the focus of this article is to offer advice regarding the rights of families to support from these local authorities.

A social service department of the local authority is one that is legally responsible for arranging support in the cases of disabled children, their siblings and the carers.  In certain situations, the carers in families where disabled children with health conditions could benefit from a break in their responsibilities.  The local authorities now offer duties to provide short break support and this guide will show how families can access this support. The care assistant jobs in Hampshire, for example, provide carers with a much-needed break to refresh and rejuvenate their minds.

Taking breaks from caring for a disabled child is not an admission of failure or a way of saying that you do not care.  Breaks are important for carers as they offer you a chance to ‘recharge your batteries’, spend time with other individuals or pursue specific interests that are put on the backburner.  Short breaks can also offer the child a change of scenery; provide them opportunities to try new experiences, as well as making new friends and having fun in new situations.

What Are the Short Break Services?

A short break service is a range of services offered by local authorities to parent carers providing them with the option of taking a break from their caring duties.  Short break services can also allow a disabled child to enjoy various experiences, develop new skills and learn how to achieve different life ambitions.  The short break services can be provided by local authorities or councils, private or public health services, and community sector organisations.

A short break service can include daytime or overnight care options in the home or in an outside location.  The service can be leisurely or an educational activity assisting the parent carers over the evenings, during the weekends or during the school holiday period.  Short break services can include the following:

  • Care at home including care attendant or sitting schemes.  This involves the provision of a person to ‘mind’ or sit with the child in question.
  • Overnight breaks including a sitting or nursing service provided during the night period if the child requires this service.
  • The daycare away from home service includes the use of playgroups, nurseries, and weekend clubs, out of school clubs, and access to play schemes during the school holidays.
  • Residential break services include the use of residential homes and special units in hospices or hospitals.
  • The family link scheme support involves the child staying with another carer family occasionally or on a regular basis.

How to Gain a Short Break Service?

Short break services can be obtained by contacting the local authority in your area.  The primary procedure for this situation involves participating in an assessment of the child and family’s requirements by social services.  To determine which short breaks are available, you should contact the local family information service first or use the online SEN Direct website to research short breaks in your region.  For example, families in the Scotland area can review short break services at Shared Care Scotland as a national third-sector institute offer information on this support option.

What Are Universal Short Breaks?

Certain short break schemes can be considered ‘universal’ and this means they are available to all children without any assessment of the family situation.  Eligibility criteria for these short breaks need to be set fairly and you should contact the local authority to see if they offer universal breaks.


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