Short Breaks for Children with Disabilities - Engagement 2023

Closed 29 May 2023

Opened 18 Apr 2023

Feedback updated 28 Sep 2023

We asked

In April and May 2023, we launched a consultation to seek and understand the views of families, staff and other professionals on the future shape of the way that short breaks are provided for children with disabilities.

This was to review and check the feedback received from families in 2020 about what was not working well with short breaks and what they wanted to see in the future. The online survey asked parents/carers, staff, practitioners and members of the public about their feelings on the proposed new model of short breaks, such as, having one lead provider for all of the short breaks services. It also asked about their needs and preferences of what short breaks could look like in the future.

You said

There were 195 responses to the online consultation, with the highest proportion from parents/carers of someone who uses the Short Breaks services (32%), followed by members of staff working in Short Breaks services (21%).

Summary of responses: 25% of responses agreed with bringing residential and non-residential short breaks services together to support the needs of children with disabilities. 32% of responses agreed with having a staff team that could flex support across residential and non-residential short breaks and potentially also support in the home. 40% of responses agreed with one referral point and joined up assessment and reviews for all of the short breaks services. 16% of responses did not feel that improved access and flexibility of non-residential short breaks would reduce their need/or the need for residential short breaks. 12% of responses asked for more support when using direct payments.

We did

All responses have been considered and will help to shape the future direction for short breaks. The information received will be used in the development of the specification for the tender of short breaks. The new model of short breaks will be in place by Spring 2024. There will be a further consultation survey and some workshops happening in Autumn 2023 which will give families and practitioners another opportunity to engage and discuss the new proposed model of short breaks.


Have your say on the new short breaks model which was co-produced with families and professionals. We want to hear the views of families, staff and other professionals on the future shape of the way short breaks are provided for children with disabilities. 

Short breaks are breaks for children and young people who have a disability giving them rich opportunities while also allowing carers to have a break from caring to carry out other vital activities they otherwise would not be able to do.

Currently Northamptonshire Children’s Trust (NCT) and the NHS Integrated Care Board (ICB) pay for a range of different breaks to meet this need.These are delivered by a number of different organisations. These include residential and non-residential short-breaks, personal care and support, holiday clubs, sensory impairment services and sleep support.

Previous engagement activity

In 2020 we held two workshops with parents and practitioners to help design how the services could be provided in the future. They told us:

  • Short breaks are critical in that they do not just provide respite for children and families but enhance and maintain healthy family dynamics and promote family resilience.
  • There is a need to improve the transition from childhood to adulthood.
  • All disabled children and young people should be able to access the support they need.
  • There needs to be one referral process.
  • More early help support is needed to avoid families going into crisis.
  • There is a need for flexible, responsive, forward thinking, transforming services.
  • A simpler pathway to access services is required.
  • There are not enough staff to support children with 1 to 1 or 2 to1 staffing needs.
  • Services should be flexible, integrated and provided in places close to home.

Taking part in further engagement

We have used the previous feedback to help us design a potential new model which brings everything together into a single service offer, run and led by one organisation. We now are looking to further engage with all stakeholders to gain more feedback on how the services should look in the future.

The proposed new model combines the current short breaks services into one offer delivered by a single lead provider. This will allow for a more joined up approach, improved efficiency resulting in increased choice for parents on the range and flexibility of the services offered. 

The base budget for the services remains the same at £2.8m. By using the pooled funding more innovatively we aim to improve the range and quality of clubs and activities for children with disabilities providing a better experience for children and a break for parents helping to reduce the potential for the family to go into crisis and require more intensive support. The transformation may mean that the current services need to change with the aim of using resources more effectively to improve support for families. A new central hub is proposed to manage a single referral route, keep developing services, raise additional funds and recruit and train volunteers.

For more information please visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) by following the link below. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The feedback received from this engagement will be used to develop the specification for the tender of short breaks services later in 2023, with the new model expected to be in place from April 2024.

Your feedback will be part of a report with many other people’s feedback, so you will not be personally identified.

How to have your say

Please tell us your views by completing this questionnaire - using the link below.

You do not have to answer all of the questions. If you don’t want to answer a question, or don’t know the answer, then move on to the next question.

You can email or send your comments by post using the contact details below. 

We will be holding focus groups to meet the families currently attending the short breaks services in person at different venues around the county. More information on the dates and venues for the focus groups is available from visiting the information link below.

If you have any questions, comments or would like a copy of this questionnaire in another format (including easy read or large print), please contact us. Our contact details are:

Email address:

Postal address:

  • Commissioning Team
  • Northamptonshire Children’s Trust
  • One Angel Square 
  • Angel Street
  • Northampton
  • NN1 1ED

This survey will run from Tuesday 18 April to midnight Monday 29 May 2023 

For information about how consultation and engagement responses are managed, please see our privacy notices:

Thank you for helping us by filling in this questionnaire.

Please note: This is a partnership activity between Northamptonshire Children’s Trust (NCT), the NHS Integrated Care Board (ICB), West Northamptonshire Council and North Northamptonshire Council. The online survey for this activity is hosted on the West Northamptonshire Consultation Hub.


  • Engagement activities
  • Children and families