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How to Run a Respite Care Programme?

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 20 Jan 2020 | comments*Discuss
Funding Respite Care Provision Grants


We own a 1400 acre working farm that has a barn with planning permission for respite accommodation. How do we go about setting up a respite programme and is help or funding available for this type of scheme in the UK?

(J.B, 19 May 2009)


Hello and thank you for your question.

I'm sure you've already realised that, for such an important provision, respite care is woefully underfunded in the UK. It's one of those situations where, until someone famous or in power has brought the issue to the attention of a wider audience, not much is going to change.

Sadly, what funding you do and don't obtain seems largely affected by the charm and PR skills of your people. There is funding out there, but with so many organisations wanting and needing to get funds from the same small pool of money, you have to be the one that shouts the loudest to get the money. So before we get started on where to try and get funding from, it's important to think about what skills you (or your team) have that will encourage those with control of the purse strings to give you the money.

If we assume, for the purposes of this answer, that no-one is truly altruistic, gaining funding is often to do with that super sales phrase 'What's In It For Me?' (aka WIIFM). Corporate funding comes with branding strings attached. Local funding comes with publicity strings attached. Famous-person funding comes with PR-opportunity funding attached. Now, I don't mean to be cynical, just pointing out the truth, so that when you are approaching various people/groups for funding, you're realistic about what buttons you need to press to get the cash.

With regards to 'official' funding, yes, there is some available, but it's highly oversubscribed. You need someone to be filling in forms left, right and centre and applying for every possible grant they find out about. Government grants are available, as is lottery funding - Google is your friend here - so you must get your 'pitch' sorted out to make your application stand out. Do your homework - highlight how important your facilities will be for the local community, say how woeful your current respite provision is, get some testimonials from potential visitors as to how the new centre will change their lives. You need to take this seriously as a project and you are far more likely to be the one that gets the cheque.

Good Luck!

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Hi I am a parent of a child with severe learning disabilities, and am at crisis \breaking point. I am mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. I have 5 kids. Moo is number 4, her younger brother suffers the most. He is 13, has never been on a plane , or even a holiday in the UK where we haven't had to come home early. It's heartbeaking. Id happily pay for a week respite ( as long as I met staff etc and she had visits prior. So I could take my boy away and let him be a kid for a week. Cardiff has one centre. We get two over night stays a month, which on the grand scale of it is not good. Id bank stays if I could that would mean 3\4 months with no break or sleep.
Moo's mummy - 20-Jan-20 @ 6:24 PM
Hi I would love to open up a respite home looking after children with learning disabilities, I have been in this industry for many years and yes I have experience and some qualifications. My problem is I don't know where to start, so I need some guidance on what to do. I am so much ready to help children from birth up to the age of 50 or above, I know all the necessarythings that are needed to archive a normal life for people who have disabilities. It would be very nice if you can help me. Many thanks Melissa.
Melissa - 10-May-18 @ 10:59 AM
Hi there I came across your site and was instantly dragged in. I don't have any qualifications but it's something I'm going to get. Opening and working with special needs children is something I really want to do. My idea has always been to have somewhere all the kids and there family's can come and have a home from home experience. Activity rooms,sensory room a large kitchen with lowerd work tops where all the kids can get involved in healthy eating gardens that all kids can access and obv a quite room where family's can talk but a place were parents can also get a bit of rest bite. My partner is disabled and we had a close call with our youngest but she was in nicu when she was born. But I also have two nephews whom both are severally disabled so I do have experience. With children that have adHD, autism, cerebral palsy, qaudraplidic, phosphofrocktocunoise deficiency, hemolytic anemia, fibromoglobin and also children in wheel chairs and that are deaf I can always do Some sign language something else that I'd love to work more on and teach classes in. I'm also very big about trying therapys and physo so I'd love a centreally with a pool as I found some many children feel free when there in the pool. I don't mean to go on but also I've seen in America horses have been a great part of physotherapy some centres do special classes where people all ages and disabilities can ride there special sadels you can buy to do this and yes sometimes people need to be aided and in some cases it does to a manual hoist or two people to get a child on the horse but watching there faces light up when they do it and the amount of confidence it gives them to say I can ride a horse is incredible. These aresults all things I'd love to do. And you have a farm which would be the best place to do all these sorts of ideas.
bea1992 - 18-Sep-16 @ 7:23 PM
lyn - Your Question:
Good day I am a certified care I have been working with adults and children for over twelve years and I am a foster carers at the moment I am being doing fostering for over 4 years and have a passion for taking care of children expecially those with special needs and would like information on what is the requirements needed to run daytime and weekends respite I have also completed courses in health and social care and acess to fostering I also has many experience with special needs children eg.learning disabilities ; arthestic ;mental health etc.

Our Response:
Apart from the information in the article, it may be advisable to speak to your foster care co-ordinator who would be able to point you in the right direction, but as you may well be aware unfortunately, government funding has been cut in such areas. However, there are some private agencies that you may be able to apply to. You would have to search online for this information, as I'm afraid we cannot make direct recommendations.
WorkingWithKids - 4-Feb-16 @ 10:44 AM
Goodday I amacertifiedcare I havebeenworkingwithadultsandchildrenfor over twelveyearsand I am a foster carersat themomentI am beingdoing fosteringfor over 4 years and have a passionfor takingcare of childrenexpeciallythose with specialneeds and wouldlikeinformationonwhat istherequirementsneededtorun daytimeand weekendsrespite i have also completed coursesin health and socialcareand acessto fostering I also has many experiencewith specialneedschildreneg .learningdisabilities; arthestic ;mentalhealthetc.
lyn - 3-Feb-16 @ 1:04 PM
Hi - Myself and my partner are fully qualified teachers who are looking to open a respite home for children with learning difficulties. My partner is a special needs teacher and I a mainstream teacher, with some experience of working with children with ASD. In relation to this post, can anyone offer advice on the following: - What are the legal obligations that are required to setup an overnight respite service? Do you need an inspection etc? - In terms of referals from SS, how easy is it to obtain these? - Are there any useful documents or guides that we can seek out to help us with our venture? Many thanks, Adam
Adam P - 9-Jan-16 @ 6:03 PM
thinking of starting a 2 person max respite unit i am a well qualified carer currently working for my local authorityobviously trained in moving and handling and meds,and especially Demensia do i need any special qualifications to open such a unit
sue - 5-Jun-12 @ 7:29 PM
the Bungalow next door to me as come up for sale I am currently a carer for the local(council) ihave good experience in Demensia obviously moving and handling training and medication training,the unit would house only 2 max residents, i would be living next door obviously with direct alarms during night but would be there during daywhat qualifications and legal requirements do i need?
sue - 5-Jun-12 @ 7:17 PM
Hi, I would be interested in knowing how you are going with this. I have had a long term dream of managing a respite centre/petting farm for children/young people who have behavioural difficulties and/or learning difficulties. I was formerly a teacher with children with learning disabilities and have worked with churches on including children with disabilities. I have also been taking a Masters in counselling. I would love to build a centre whereby self-esteem and worth can be built and that facilitates healing. From reading and past experience I believe that animals and having some responsibility in caring for them can have a tremendous healing effect. thus my vision is to integrate this into the respite facility. I have no idea how to go about this and unlike yourselves do not have the space yet. Every blessing in your project. Denise
Denise - 10-Nov-11 @ 5:30 AM
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