City of Wolverhampton Council is required to provide Short Breaks for families living in the city with a child/young person aged 0 to 25 years with a disability. This statement and our commissioning strategy form the basis of our plans for short break services. It ensures that we have available the range of short breaks that families value and need.
Short breaks are defined as: “part of the range of services provided for families, 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”.
City of Wolverhampton Council is committed to shaping the social care market and introducing outcome-focused approach. The delivery model is based on an ‘Outcomes-Focused Approach’, the aim of which is to shift the focus from activities to results. Outcomes are measured as specific changes in behaviour, condition and satisfaction for the people in receipt of the Service. The Council is committed to working with parents/carers and their representative organisations to produce a truly collaborative future for the delivery of short breaks.
 The Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children Regulations came into force on 1 April 2011. These Regulations require each local authority to produce a Short Breaks Services Statement (the ‘Local Offer’) so that families know what services are available, the eligibility criteria for these services, and how the range of short breaks is designed to meet the needs of families with children with disabilities locally.
The short breaks and respite service aims to compliment the Council’s corporate priorities by ensuring that:
- People live longer and have healthier lives;
- People are safeguarded in vulnerable situations;
- People are enabled and healthy lifestyles are promoted
- Independence for people with disabilities are promoted;
- Communities are enabled to support themselves;
- The City is kept safe.
Commissioning activity will be progressed with a common set of embedded themes:
- Maximisation of the use of Assistive Technology (telecare);
- Delivery of the corporate savings objectives;
- Delivery of services aligned to the Corporate Plan.
A short break can help disabled children to:
- Spend time with friends and make new ones
- Take part in interesting activities and new experiences
- Develop positive life and social skills
- Be more independent or confident
- Prepare for life as an adult
- Be safe
- Have fun
Short breaks can also help families to:
- Feel less pressured
- Be able to get on with normal routines
- Have some 'me time'
- Spend time with other children or together as a family
- Be confident that their child is safe and having fun with skilled carers who understand their needs
There are three tiers of service that can offer a short break:
Tier one (Universal Care) families will be supported to access services which are available to all citizens i.e. The Way, libraries, WV Active and other youth support. It includes support to access HeadStart and other area-based initiatives if appropriate.
- Families may need the following types of information:
- social care services that are available
- education – learning new skills, additional qualifications, colleges, careers advice, funding options
- health, health checks, keep-fit classes
- leisure and social activities
- avoiding loneliness, keeping busy
- social care for non-carer-related needs (as appropriate)
- how to contact social services
- employment advice or signposting– volunteering to build up work experience, writing a CV, interview skills, careers advice, self-employment and so on
This basic level ‘signposting’ service is available to all. There is no assessment.
Tier one supports the first of the ‘three conversations’; “How can I connect you to things that will help you get on with your life –based on your assets, strengths and those of your family?”
Tier two (Low to moderate care needs), families would receive the support in Tier 1 plus additional resource including more supportive ‘handholding’ in to mainstream services. In some cases, this will offer support and referral to Social Services and/or to the Wellbeing Service. It can include participation in peer support services such as specialist groups, including those elements of the framework for autistic spectrum disorders and medium to complex needs group activities. Tier Two services will include access to the ‘carer’s app’ (currently in development) which will offer a number of supported activities, discounts and other benefits, once this is launched. The ‘supporting families’ pathway is built in, ensuring needs are assessed and the right level of support is provided. Access to Tier Two services is not always assessed by a funding panel, but may require a referral from a school or other professional.
Tier two supports the second of the ‘three conversations’; “What needs to change to make you safe and regain control? How can I help make that happen?”
Tier three (Substantial to critical (High) care needs) families will be supported as in tier 2, plus a carer’s social work assessment. For the young person, an Early Healthcare Plan or Child in Need planning will link in to specialist services. Tier three is for those families who have additional personal needs and access to available services including residential short breaks, support with engagement at school, support from community mental health services, etc. Access to Tier Three services is through a social services assessment process and may involve a funding panel. Tier three services include those elements of framework provision (outreach and buddying) which offer personalised support packages based on need.
Tier three supports the third of the ‘three conversations’; “What is a fair personal budget and what are the sources of funding? How can I help you to access them? What does a good life look like? How can I help you to use your resources to support your chosen life?”
Tier Three support will require a decision from the Children and Young People’s Funding Panel. Panel decisions are typically reviewed every six months, or sooner if circumstances warrant it.
Current Provision (to April 2019) is based around a set of commissioned services.
The majority of services are provided through either a framework of providers or through a single provider with a contract linked to performance.
The Council intends to consult on the effectiveness of this method of commissioning services and on the services which we currently commission over the next few months. The exception to this is the residential overnight service offered through Progress Care, which is not scheduled to be reviewed until 2020, though the provision may be included in the consultation in order to reduce the burden on parents and carers.
The Community Short Breaks Provision
Saturday Youth Group / School Holiday activities: This provides activities for children and young people aged 5 to 18 years old, with specific clubs set up for different age groups and needs. It is provided by Progress Care. The young people who use this service are currently being reviewed to see if the service that they receive could be better provided through the framework (below).
Community Short Breaks Framework consisting of 4 lots.
- Lot One: Outreach - Outreach (choice of 3 providers). This offers support for children at home and to access community activities. Outreach support for service users aged between 1 to 18 years old.
- Lot Two: Buddying (choice of 3 providers). This works on a 1 to 1 basis to support young people. The provision supports service users aged between 12 to 18 years old to access mainstream provision and community facilities.
- Lot Three: Activity groups for children and young people with Autistic Spectrum conditions aged between 8 to 18 years old. (single provider)
- Lot Four: Group based activities for service users with medium to complex needs, aged 5 to 18. To be delivered at weekends and during school holidays
Residential (overnight) Short Breaks
There are three elements to this service:
- Residential unit providing planned overnight and day time short breaks
- Outreach Support, providing short breaks in the family home or community setting
- Emergency short breaks provision to support families in crisis
The City Council is pleased to note that the new Progress Care facility ‘Stourbridge House’ was officially opened on 10th May 2018, and will be ready to take its first young clients by the beginning of June 2018.
Overnight short breaks are currently (before June 2018) provided by Progress Care’s Regis House facility, and by various providers out of city, including Bluebells, Cannock Chase Resource Centre, and Daisybrook.
Schools-based short breaks
City of Wolverhampton Council has retained a schools-based grant provision as part of its overall offer. This grant is allocated to the six special schools in Wolverhampton. There are no specific criteria which determine an ‘eligible activity’ under the Grant, however bids for support are expected to:
- Contribute to the Council’s overall strategic objectives:
- People and communities achieve their full potential
- Challenging and supporting schools to provide the best education for children and young people
- Enabling communities to support themselves
- Support ‘short breaks’
- Have children, young people and their parents/carers at the centre of developing, planning and evaluating services.
- Support the development and delivery of EHC plans
- Be clearly defined from the ‘normal offer’ or ‘core business’ (i.e. it must demonstrate ‘additionality’. This means that the session/activity would not go ahead, or would go ahead in a reduced form, if grant funding were unavailable)
- Demonstrate value for money
Short Breaks Caravans at Porthmadog and Burnham on Sea.
- These offer residential holidays to families. Access is controlled through the Disabled Children and Young People’s Team. It is not possible for all requests for access to the caravans to be accommodated, and therefore preference is given to those families with the greatest need who have not previously accessed the service.
The Council is committed to working in partnership with parents and their representative organisations, for example Voice4Parents. This statement has been produced in collaboration with Voice4Parents, and we are in early discussions about possible future directions. The council is committed to developing services in partnership with those who use them and providers. This ‘co-production’ approach is embedded into our commissioning and procurement philosophy. The possible future directions include:
Direct Payments/Personal Budgets
Direct Payments are a Tier Three intervention. A Direct Payment is a personal budget (i.e. a sum of money) which is allocated to the parent/carer so that they can arrange their own, personalised package of respite care. The allocation of a personal budget requires an assessment and a decision by the resource panel. Many people who have tried personal budgets have found that it offers a flexibility and personalisation which is not possible through commissioned services. It is, for example, possible to pay relatives or a personal assistant to provide the care necessary. Some people have said that they find personal budgets difficult to understand, that they are unable to accept the burden of becoming an ‘employer’ and that they prefer commissioned services. The city council will offer the option of a managed personal budget where the budget is administered by the council, but exercised by the parent/carer. The council has been using the personal budget option for some time, and parents/carers have said that, once they get used to it, personal budgets offer much more freedom and flexibility. Therefore, while we may prioritise direct payments (i.e. we may offer it as a ‘first option’) it will not be the only available option. The increased use of personal budgets will be included in the consultation.
Co-Production/Social Enterprise Support
Direct payments do, however, give some scope for collaborative action between groups of parents offering mutual support. Whilst the Council cannot commission directly with social enterprises without going through the regular procurement processes, there is nothing to prevent parents with direct payment arrangements forming social enterprises offering mutual support. This has the added benefit that it supports the ‘think local’ agenda, keeping finance and expertise in Wolverhampton, and adding to the ‘community capacity’. The city council is in discussions – at an early stage – with a parent-led organisation which may form the nucleus of a social enterprise along these lines.
The short break services statement is approved and overseen by the Special Educational Needs & Disabilities and Commissioning Partnership Board. The Board meets half-termly and comprises representation from parents, young people, social care, health and education professionals, voluntary sector partners and parents.
In partnership with Voice 4 Parents and Changing Our Lives the statement will be reviewed annually to keep it up to date. We will consult before making changes to ensure our short breaks continue to reflect the needs of families living in Wolverhampton who have children with disabilities.
We will make sure our Short Breaks Service Statement is published on the Local Offer and other online information services. Through our partnerships with Voice 4 Parents and the Information Advice and Support Service, we will make sure that families have access to our Local Offer.
The Short Breaks strategy and the local offer is part of an overarching commitment to supporting people in the city to live the most fulfilling lives possible. The strategy links to the Council’s vision for the city, and is closely associated with the following: