Specialist Short Breaks Re-Commissioning


Currently there are two contracts issued by Shropshire Council for the delivery of specialist Short Breaks for children and young people with disabilities and their families, both of which are due to be re-commissioned in April 2024.

Short Breaks are services which provide “breaks from caring for carers of disabled children to support them to continue to care for their children at home and to allow them to do so more effectively” (Short Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children – 2011). They have previously been known as ‘Respite Services’.  There is additional recognition that Short Breaks have an important role to play in supporting young people’s preparation for adulthood and provide valuable experience of spending time away from their home or main carers. Specialist Short Breaks are only accessible after a needs assessment carried out by a Social Worker, evidencing the need for this service.  They include overnight residential care, specialist groups and 1:1 specialist support.  You can find out more about the Shropshire Short Breaks offer in the Shropshire Short Breaks Statement

PACC are currently engaged in ongoing discussions with Shropshire Council about the re-commissioning of the existing assessed Short Breaks Services available in Shropshire.  At the moment, these services are all delivered by ‘Action for Children’ and include overnight residential stays at Bradbury House and Specialist Community Outreach Support.

Shropshire Council are committed to co-producing the re-commissioning process and ensuring that it reflects the voices of children and young people with SEND and their families who use these services.  The current timescale for the process is outlined below:

The existing Short Break provision will continue to be available throughout this process.

As a first step PACC has produced a summary of the Short Breaks reports which it has previously published.  This captures the key points made by parent carers and provides some clear and consistent messages about how these services should be delivered and what difference they should make to the lives of families who access them. The key messages shared by parent carers across these reports were;

  • Both residential and community based Short Breaks are valued by parent carers supporting a child with complex needs and are seen as important in improving the quality of family life.
  • Residential and community based Short Breaks should offer quality outcomes for children and young people with complex needs in addition to providing a break from caring for parent carers, with a particular focus on preparation for adulthood
  • The experience of requesting support should be transparent, positive and without judgment, recognising the impact on family life of caring for a child with complex needs and understanding how this results in a need for support
  • Support should be person centred and able to respond to individual needs
  • Staff should be well trained and consistent
  • Regular, effective and timely communication between providers, commissioners and families is essential
  • The residential and community based Short Breaks offer should be able to respond to local demand levels, including being able to respond to periods of increased demand such as school / college holiday periods.
  • There were also some other important messages about the importance of support being made available for parent carers of young children (under the age of 6) with complex needs and supporting families who are offered direct payment to find the support needed.

In the next month PACC will be working with Shropshire Council to develop further opportunities for Shropshire parent carers to provide feedback and to shape Specilaist Short Breaks Services going forward.  Please look out for more details.  It would be great if we could create a parent carer reference group for this work, so if you would like to be more involved and can spare a few hours to support this work please email Sarah at enquiries@paccshropshire.org.uk

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