Short breaks - Adrian Wells

Published
18.10.2021

This short article is aimed at explaining what GCC intends to do now and in the future in commissioning short breaks for disabled children, young people and their families.

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Responsibility for the commissioning of short breaks for disabled children, young people and their families transferred into the Integrated Children and Families Commissioning Hub earlier this year. Since that time we have spent time getting a better understanding of the needs in the County, working closely with the Gloucestershire Parent Carer Forum, listening to providers, sourcing provision and getting agreement at a senior level for our plans.

We know that the provision available at the moment does not meet the needs and wishes of children, young people and their families as well as it could, nor does it meet the aspirations of providers. This is partly to do with the pandemic, partly to do with the closure of popular provision and also increasingly, a lack of staff in the sector.

So what are we doing?

  • We have joined up with our colleagues in Proud to Care[1] in running a recruitment event at Gloucester Rugby Club on 17 October from 10.00 am – 1.00 pm aimed at recruiting more care staff to support short breaks. At the event we will be joined by 35 local providers across Adults and Childrens services all of whom have jobs available.
  • We will shortly be going out to tender for more short break services, these have been designed on the following principles;
  1. Accessible – not only in the traditional sense but also in terms of travel time;
  2. Inclusive – where appropriate and exclusive when required;
  3. Sustainable – providers should be financially sound and well regulated.

To this should be added the need to identify ‘core time’ when services run and the availability of services to a wider age range. As a result the following will also be central to new contracts;

  1. The age range for services should be 5 – 25 unless dictated by regulation or specified in the contract;
  2. Core time for any service will be between 10am – 4pm unless dictated by regulation due to age. A day session will consist of a minimum of 4 hours within this timeframe unless the needs of the child or young people dictate otherwise and require a shorter session. If shorter sessions are offered evidence must be provided that the children and young people and parent/carer user groups have been consulted and the eventual offer co-produced;
  3. The service will be delivered in suitable venues in the operating area.
  4. We hope to offer a Saturday club as part of each locality contract that will eventually be offered on 48 weekends/year staffing permitting. The specific weekends at the providers discretion
  5. As part of the locality provision we aim to run play schemes during Christmas, Easter and Summer School Holidays for up to 25 days annually, staff permitting;
  6. Where indicated a provision may only be accessible via referral from the Disabled Children & Young People’s Service (DCYPS).

The localities in which we aiming to set up these provisions are;

  • Cheltenham
  • Forest of Dean
  • Gloucester
  • Stroud and South Cotswolds
  • Tewkesbury and North Cotswolds

Both of the latter schemes will include mobile provision to ensure that as many children, young people families are reached who live in more rural areas of Gloucestershire.

We realise that these plans may not be to ideal for all but we believe them to offer the best balance of coverage and accessibility for Gloucestershire.

To afford these extended schemes we will be putting a greater percentage of the available funding into direct provision, discussions will be had with individual families where appropriate to change from direct payments to the new direct provision.

In future months we will begin to consider how more specialist provision can be co-produced and commissioned.

Adrian Wells,
Interim Head of Service: Short Breaks Commissioning

[1] Proud to Care Gloucestershire is a joint NHS and County Council initiative promoting opportunities available within the social care and health sector in Gloucestershire.

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