Ideas for parents: short breaks payments

Every August, parents and carers return a feedback form on our short breaks scheme.

We hope by sharing some of this feedback, we can give parents / carers ideas on how they can benefit from the scheme.

If your family have found an interesting or unusual use for your short breaks payment, please tell us using the feedback function.

What is the short breaks scheme all about?

In short, making it possible for families to provide safe, accessible leisure opportunities for their young people, in a flexible way. This means every family should use the payment differently, depending on the needs and desires of their young person.

We have used the short breaks scheme money to pay for the cost of the activities and used our own funds to pay for personal assistants to support my son to access these activities.  He’s had the best summer yet as he has accessed activities in the community that other young people his age are accessing – not specialist clubs which is what he was previously doing!

This has made an enormous difference to my son as, through appropriate support from his personal assistance, he is engaging in his community and in activities that other teenagers are doing.  His self-esteem is elevated, he has learnt to behave more appropriately in mainstream settings and has forged friendships with mainstream youngsters.  Having the support of his personal assistants (rather than going everywhere with mum – which is not cool when you’re 14/15yrs old) has given him more independence and makes him feel like a regular teenager!

How can families benefit?
1. Think outside the box.

Most parents / carers will use the £600 direct payment towards admission costs or overheads for an activity and this a great way to benefit from the scheme. However, a ‘short break’ can be very different for different individuals and not all families need to follow this model.

For example:

  • one family used their payment to purchase a leather sofa for their autistic son to sit in the conservatory and watch the birds, as this is what he wanted to do.
  • one family used their payment to buy a trampoline, allowing their daughter to have a safe, fun ‘break’ whenever she wanted.
2. Focus on the individual

Rather than using the money to purchase an activity accessible to your young person, can you use the payment to make it possible for your young person to access the activity they want?

For example:

  • paying a carer or support worker to accompany them
  • paying an older sibling to accompany them
  • buying equipment to support them
  • covering transport costs for them to access an activity not in their community
3. Think ‘little and often’

Lots of families told us they used their short breaks payment to support a family holiday and this is a great use of funds for many families. However, lots of parents /carers told us they got more from the payment by using it to make smaller purchases for their young person. This allows families to benefit from the greater flexibility offered by the direct payment scheme. For example:

  • day trips to the seaside
  • going fishing
  • buying play equipment for the garden
  • laser quest
  • going to the zoo
  • music lessons
  • going to the sea life centre
  • going to the carnival
  • hawk bird sanctuary
  • canal boat trip
  • going to a theme park for the day
4. ‘Going mainstream’

Don’t underestimate the value of your young person getting the chance to do something seemingly everyday. The short breaks scheme can provide financial support for these activities, but it can also offer an invaluable opportunity for a young person to develop their independence, like managing money or traveling more independently. For example:

  • going to the cinema
  • going out to eat
  • going to a friend’s house
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