University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Hertfordshire
Number of pages60
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Abstract

Introduction:
The Centre for Community Research at the University of Hertfordshire was commissioned by Luton Borough Council (LBC) to carry out an independent review of the short break and respite care services for children and young people with disabilities in the borough. The aim was to assess current provision and to provide recommendations for improvements. The findings will be used to develop services in line with the Government’s Aiming High for the Disabled Child (AHDC) initiative which seeks to improve facilities for parents or carers and their children and young people with disabilities, and to empower them with regard to their care and their future.
Method:
Qualitative data was gathered in field research. A total of 57 parents or carers of children with disabilities, 44 children and young people with physical or learning disabilities and approximately 20 professionals were consulted. Methods included questionnaires, face-to-face and telephone interviews, focus groups, and observation where communication difficulties precluded spoken responses.
Conclusions:
The research recognised the important benefits that respite care and short breaks can offer children and young people with disabilities, and their parents and carers in terms of much needed respite. Whilst some good practice was noted, a number of issues and serious shortcomings were identified that require further development, notably a lack of information and awareness, inequalities in provision, inadequate provision, and future increased demand for services. In view of the many individual recommendations, seven key areas were identified for prioritisation:

•Budget contraints and increasing capacity for unmet needs
•Improving information and awareness among parents
•Developing increased capacity for overnight residential care
•School holiday provision and the extended use of schools
•Greater transparency and equality for parents
•Support for voluntary organisations
•Addressing the cultural requirements specific to Luton with regard to BME groups

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