Background: Services for families caring for a child with a learning disability are changing to become more family-centred, focusing not only on the child’s needs but on those of the whole family. An evaluation of a newly developed Families Project in one Health and Social Service Trust area in Northern Ireland aimed to identify the impact on parents and ways in which it could become more effective. The use of person-centred planning tools by the project was of particular interest. Method: A mix of qualitative and quantitative approaches were used. Families participating in the project (N=19) were contrasted with two other groups of parents recruited from the same Health and Social Services (HSS) Trust (N=25) and from area served by different HSS Trust (N=25). Parents were interviewed at home on two occasions, 12 months apart. Results: Participating parents spoke highly of the project and reported benefits to their child; to themselves and to the other children in the family. In comparison to the other two parent groups, they had significantly higher scores on a measure of family functioning and reported greater levels of support. However there were no improvements on measures of parental health and stress. Conclusions: The use of volunteer helpers allied with accessing community resources had opened up new forms of activities for the young people while offering respite breaks to families. Person-centred planning was welcomed by most but not all families and greater efforts may have to be made by the Project if the personal needs of certain parents are to be met. Improvements are noted when undertaking future evaluations.
|Journal||Child Care in Practice|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jul 2006|