Short Breaks Scheme - The 'Home and Away' Respite Scheme


This chapter was updated in August 2016 to reflect current departmental arrangements and threshold criteria.

1. Principles of the Scheme

The Home and Away scheme provides short breaks for children and young people with a disability. The definition of disability is defined by the Equality Act 2010 as follows:

You are disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. 

To qualify for inclusion in the scheme, the child or young person will meet certain criteria:

  • The child has complex needs which require 24 hour supervision and a high level of support or the use of equipment;
  • The child/young person's health and development are likely to be significantly impaired without the provision of services;
  • Clear evidence of the imminent risk of family breakdown;
  • Immediate danger and vulnerability of the child/young person or sibling(s);
  • Risk situation where the child or sibling(s) are likely to suffer significant harm;
  • Have been subject to a statutory assessment of need which has identified a need for this service.

The service can continue to be offered up to the age of 18 years, the plan will be reviewed at least every 6 months.

The Scheme is an integral part of the Adoption and Fostering Service with a designated Supervising Social Worker carrying specific responsibility for its day-to-day operation.

Foster Carers working to the scheme are assessed, trained, approved, reviewed, supervised and supported in the same way as all other foster carers. However, a different scheme of payment currently applies.

2. Access to the Scheme

Referrals will be received through the Disabled Children's Team. The provision of this service is subject to a statutory assessment of need. A decision to provide this service is made by the Short Breaks Resource Panel which comprises representatives from Children, Families and Community Health Services and Learning Disability CAMHS.

Note: these procedures do not preclude the possibility of urgent placement requests for children with disabilities being made through the placement duty system. In such cases, the usual placement procedures will apply.

3. Planning for Placements

When a request for a Home and Away placement is accepted, the designated Supervising Social Worker will arrange to visit the family to complete a Personal and Health Profile of the child, including his needs and routines. Where necessary/appropriate, additional information will be sought from other sources e.g. the child's school, and consultation may be needed with the department's Occupational Therapy service

The needs of the child will be then be considered against the available placement options, and a preferred match identified.

The Supervising Social Worker will visit the proposed Home and Away carer to discuss the child's needs and confirm the carer's willingness to accept the placement.

The Supervising Social Worker will then arrange to visit the parent to discuss the match.

The Supervising Social Worker will arrange a planning meeting with the carer, and the parent. At this meeting the details of the child and their needs in placement will be confirmed and any additional training or equipment needs identified. Medical consent will be obtained from the parent, and a Health Care Plan agreed and signed by all parties. A plan of introductions will then be drawn up.

If additional requirements are identified, the Supervising Social Worker will arrange for the necessary training and equipment to be made available, via OT, specialist health visitor etc. as appropriate.

Reviews of placements will take place at not less than 6 monthly intervals, and additional meetings may be called by any party to the arrangement, as required.

The Supervising Social Worker will ensure that the carer understands the arrangements for payment and has a sufficient supply of claim forms. Payments are administered through the Disabled childrens Team Business Support Team Leader.

Supervising Social Workers will visit carers at least every 3 months, and more often, as the placement requires. They should ensure that the child is seen in placement at least once in every six months, whether on a visit by themselves or by the child's social worker.