DCSF publishes reports on the Impact of Short Breaks on Families with Disabled Children

Date: 25 March 2010

The Department of Children, Schools and Famlies has published two reports produced by the Centre for Disability Research (CeDR)

CeDR, in association with the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) were commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to evaluate the Aiming High for Disabled Children Short Breaks Pathfinder Programme. The reports published today include a systematic review of the international literature on the impacts of short break provision on disabled children and their families and a report on the qualitative element of the project which was designed to provide a sense of the experiences and perceptions of disabled children and their families concerning the impacts of short breaks ontheir wellbeing. Further reports on the survey-based quantitative elements of the project , designed to identify in what ways and to what extent the provision of short breaks impacts on family well-being will be published later this year and in 2011.

The Impacts of Short Break Provision on Disabled Children and Families: An International Literature Review>

For over 30 years, short breaks have been part of the landscape of support provision for families with a disabled child. Short breaks are designed for disabled children to spend time in the company of other people than their primary family carers, both to give family carers a break and to allow children the opportunity to have new experiences with a wider range of people outside the immediate family.

The most common focus of research has been the impact of short breaks on carer stress or other measures of carer well-being. This focus is reflected in the fact that the only existing systematic review in relation to the impact of short breaks was on the effect of short breaks on informal carers' well-being.

There are widespread assumptions about the potentially beneficial impact of short breaks on family carers and disabled children, including reduced carer stress and an increased capacity for family carers to continue caring, and increased child enjoyment of a wider range of social opportunities. This review aims to systematically evaluate the existing international research evidence concerning the impact of short breaks, to determine where there is robust evidence for the impact of short breaks on families with a disabled child and where more evidence is needed.>


A Report on Themes Emerging from Qualitative Research into the Impact of Short Break Provision on Families with Disabled Children

The Aiming High for Disabled Children programme was launched in May 2007 with the intention of transforming services for disabled children. The programme was intended to be delivered jointly between the DCSF and the Department of Health. The development of provision of short breaks is only one of the areas covered by the programme, the others being childcare, parent participation and transition support. However, short breaks have received by far the most significant investment in comparison with these other areas. This report is based on evidence from qualitative research into the impact of short break provision on disabled children and their families carried out by researchers at the Centre for Disability Research (CeDR). Six main themes were identified from the data and are presented in separate sections. The first focuses upon the ways in which disabled children and their families use short breaks. The next theme looks at the physical location of short breaks and how access issues and the suitability of the location and venue can affect their beneficial impact. The ways in which information and communication affect access to and experience of short breaks is considered in the third theme. What families and disabled children want from the people who provide the short breaks forms the focus of the fourth theme. The relationship between family members and short breaks carers is considered in the fifth theme and the final theme examines issues around sustainability and support for disabled children and their families to lead normal lives.>



Further information

Associated staff: Michelle Collins, Eric Emerson, Chris Hatton, Janet Robertson, Victoria Welch, Emma Wells

Associated departments and research centres: Applied Social Science, Centre for Disability Research CeDR, Division of Health Research