How we recommissioned our short breaks and respite care services | Oxfordshire County Council

How we recommissioned our short breaks and respite care services

Our redesign of short breaks and respite care services for disabled children in Oxfordshire

Over the past 10 years the county council and NHS in Oxfordshire have worked together to develop a range of services for children with disabilities. 

Services have been developed in response to changing needs, new statutory frameworks, engagement with parents, carers and children, and in response to opportunities for central government grant funding. At the forefront of this joint working was the joint commissioning of residential care services for children in 2007. Community based short breaks services followed and began in 2009.

Please see Short breaks for disabled children for information and details of Short Breaks services in Oxfordshire

All the current contracted services have been recommissioned with new contracts from April 2017. At the same time there was a requirement for the council to achieve significant savings across the local authority.  The particular savings to be made in services for disabled children, young people and families was £250,000 from a short breaks budget of approximately £3.2m. 

The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) funds approximately £800,000 of services but currently do not have a requirement to make savings in this area. Instead, the CCG is looking at how to manage the overspending budgets in Children’s Continuing Care. Those savings are not part of this recommissioning.

What we are recommissioning

  • community short breaks and childcare, to include:
    • out of school services (holiday play schemes and after school clubs)
    • teenage activities (holiday activities and youth groups)
    • specialist service for children and young people with high functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome (holiday activities, youth groups and family support)
  • specialist residential respite and short breaks service (overnight breaks)
  • The Children’s Home for children with disabilities.

How we decided what short breaks services we needed in Oxfordshire

The council involved a wide range of people through workshops and focus groups. This included parents/ carers, short breaks providers and other professionals. The council  looked at where services were used, if there were any gaps in services and what has worked well or not worked well and why.  This information helped us to decide where to locate new services to better support families with a disabled child(ren) in Oxfordshire.

We also asked which services were most valuable through a survey. There were 587 responses in total, with 386 from parents/ carers and 192 from providers and professionals.  These responses were very helpful to us in shaping the types of services commissioned. 

What parents/carers have told us

Families told us how important it is that services that they are using continue and this was reflected this in the service specifications for organisations who were expected to ensure a smooth transition and continuity of service. Any changes being planned were to be in partnership with the people using the services over time to better reflect their needs.

Families using the Residential Short breaks were been complimentary and supportive. The service being tendered was based on the current service with a future development being support and recruitment of Short Breaks Foster Carers.

Families were not asked to comment on the Children’s Home

You said We did
How valuable holiday activities, after school and youth activities are to you We are commissioning these services.  We know there is less money available but we are asking providers to work with us to make best use of the money, make services available where they are most needed, seek alternative sources of funding and use volunteers and other resources in the community. 
That it is important for your child to be able to socialise with other children All of the services will be expected to offer high quality play opportunities for your child.
It is important that you know that your child will be safely cared for Every provider will be required to ensure that all staff have the appropriate skills and level of training to meet the needs of individual children and young people and keep them safe.
These services make it able for you to work There will be holiday and afterschool services to support working families.  The way we are doing this is by working with mainstream providers to support disabled children. We are also asking commissioned short breaks providers to work flexibly with families to meet the needs of working families where they can. This will depend on the availability of suitable venues. As there is less money available commissioned services will need to be targeted in areas where there is most need.
These services give you a short break to have time for yourself or other members of your family Short breaks services promote activities for your child whilst you have time for yourself and your family.
If there is a change in service provider, that it is vital that the service continues to provide you with a short break. Providers will continue to provide current services, these will change and develop in partnership in line with the needs of families.
You need to be kept up to date about what's happening especially if there will be a change to the service you are currently getting There will be a monthly electronic update bulletin which you can sign up to. This will give you the latest news and information. Bulletins will be available on this webpage (see below)
You were worried that plans for a Pooled Budget between the Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group could result in cuts in services. As we continue the work on a Pooled Budget we will make sure we communicate more clearly about the benefits for families and that we are clear decisions for savings are made by individual organisations not the pooled budget.

What short breaks providers and other professionals have told us

Professionals' views mirrored that of families in regards to the Community Short Breaks and Childcare and the Residential Respite and Short Breaks Service and were supportive of the current children’s home.

You said We did
Holiday, after school and youth activities are vital for families We have recommissioned these services.
The needs of these children are complex and they need to be cared for by experienced and skilled staff. Providers will need to ensure that their workers have the correct experience and skills to care for the children.
Holiday, after school and youth activities give the young people an opportunity to be included in new experiences, build close friendships and enjoy themselves New services will be measured against outcomes that ensure this will happen. Providers will need to show evidence that this happens. Regular feedback from families is also required.
How important it is for some families to have support from an experienced professional outside of group activities. Families will still be able to access support from professionals outside of group activities through Social Care, School and the Family Information Service.

Supporting documents

Last reviewed
26 March 2018
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