Creating meaningful and effective short breaks through Direct Payments

The Wales School for Social Care Research based in part at Swansea University is funding a conference on 23 March entitled ‘Creating meaningful and effective short breaks through Direct Payments’.

Nick Andrews is Research and Practice Development Officer within The Wales School for Social Care Research based in Swansea University, and a speaker at the conference.  He explained: “The Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014, which came into force in April 2016, calls for more personalised and creative approaches to working with people with care and support needs and carers. This includes the creative use of Direct Payments from local authorities to allow them to purchase and manage their own care and support services.”

“This conference, in collaboration with Cardiff Metropolitan University, Carers Wales, Disability Wales and the Wales Co-operative Centre, will host  60 policymakers, local authorities, third sector representatives and Direct Payment recipients to explore how these Direct Payments can be used to support the provision of meaningful short breaks (respite care).”

One of the findings from a Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Health and Social Care Wales research study led by Swansea University was that 'one size fits all' approaches to respite care do not always result in good outcomes for family carers or the people they support.  Over the past 12 months, links have been developed between social care academics in Swansea and Bangor Universities and social tourism academics in Cardiff Metropolitan University, where the event is being held. 

Links have also been established with key third sector organisations in Wales (e.g. Disability Wales and Carers Wales) as well as Shared Care Scotland, a national organisation in Scotland that has been pioneering innovative ways of supporting interdependent caring relationships through meaningful short breaks. Representatives from Scotland will be joining a diverse group of Welsh policy makers, researchers, local authority commissioners, service provider agencies, disabled people and carers at the event. 

Diane Sedgley, a Senior Lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University and one of the conference organisers said: “It is disappointing that, to date the use of Direct Payments for short breaks in Wales has been underutilised. After all, short breaks for any group in society, can have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing, providing opportunities to relax, socialise and escape routine. It is not surprising that people often return from holidays with increased levels of self-esteem and a fresh perspective on life. It would be wonderful if, after the conference, the perceived challenges of using Direct Payments for short breaks in Wales could be addressed and the impact of short breaks on people’s wellbeing unleashed.”

Nick Andrews concluded: “It is hoped that this conference will stimulate both thinking and practice around the concept of short breaks, build a bridge between social care and tourism and lead to the establishment of an associated research and practice development group. Our research suggests that badly designed respite can cause more harm than good in trying to support and sustain caring relationships. We have been pleased to hear how this message resonates with many people and look forward to exploring more creative approaches at the event.”  

The programme for the conference can be found Creating meaningful and effective short breaks through Direct Payments .