Matching short-break services for children with learning disabilities to family needs and preferences.

Roy McConkey, Louise Adams

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    42 Citations (Scopus)


    Short breaks or respite care is a much-valued service by families and the demand for it is likely to exceed supply. It is all the more imperative that the services provided are matched to the needs and preferences of families. A census was undertaken within one Health and Social Services Board in N. Ireland of 426 families who received one of six types of short break services for their child with disabilities during a twelve month period. Differing profiles of child and family characteristics were found for each service. This suggested that social workers and/or parents were selective in their use of services. This was further investigated in a second study involving 76 families drawn from one area of the Board who were interviewed about their usage of and preferences for short break services. Family preferences were for increased leisure opportunities for the child; for breaks in residential Units and for more domiciliary support. Hospital-based respite was the least preferred option although over one-third of the Board’s funds were presently spent on this. Hence short breaks services presently do not match family’s needs and preferences but the data gathered in this study illustrate how improvements could be made.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)429-444
    JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jul 2000


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