Failing carers

Survey finds local authorities falling short on respite care

There are serious failings in the accessibility and accuracy of short break statements among local authorities in England, according to new research by the University.

Short breaks or respite care is an important support service that allows families and disabled children to have time apart.

A survey carried out by the Cerebra Legal Entitlements Research Project at Cardiff Law School found that of 63 councils analysed, more than 90 percent failed to advise parent carers and young carers of their right to an assessment.

Other findings include: no clear explanation as to how the amount of support provided is decided (in 85 percent of cases); in excess of 80 percent of authorities failed to explain what families could do if they were dissatisfied with the support they were receiving; and in more than half of cases, it was difficult to locate the actual ‘short break statement’.

Professor Luke Clement, Cardiff Law School, who led the research said: "Short Breaks are of crucial importance to disabled children and their families. The research shows that many authorities are falling short of what the law requires. The report highlights good practice and we hope that this will encourage councils to review their Short Breaks Statements and ensure they are of an acceptable standard. We are also asking that the English and Welsh Governments take action to check that this is happening".

A number of positive findings also emerged from the research. Once found, 79 percent of short break statements were easy to read, for example. The Isle of Wight was singled out by the report as an example of best practice and ‘honourable mentions’ were given to the authorities of Camden, Hampshire, Liverpool and Cheshire West and Chester.

Among the recommendations made by the research are having a logical point to start a search - such as a home page; and the need for a national standard ‘template’ for all authorities to use.