In an ideal world, families with a severely disabled family member would be able to enjoy natural breaks to benefit both the disabled person and the carer. This could be help from friends, relatives and neighbours, shared holidays or from using local leisure facilities.
However, in reality, these types of natural help are rarely available to families with severely disabled family members. As a result, carers rely upon social services or their health trust in order to get a break.
Getting a break from social services or a health trust means an assessment of your needs must be made. This will find out both what the disabled child or adult needs, and what their carers need. This should also take into account anyone else living at home, for example brothers and sisters or elderly relatives.
Following the assessment, if the carers are found to qualify for a short break, a care plan is written that spells out what should be provided.
Unfortunately, these assessments don't always lead to a carer getting a break. Many areas ration short break services and it may be decided that the parents do not qualify under local rules, or they may have to join a long waiting list.
There is no legal right to a short break although there is a legal right to have an assessment. If you have had an assessment but have not received support, find out what to do if you can't get a break.