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AU Review - August 2020 Update

 

When we opened our Short Break Service in 2009 we had around 350 members. Eleven years later we now have over 5,000 children and young people registered with us from across Suffolk, nearly 2000 of whom receive a financial award.

We are proud of how our service has grown, and we want to continue to meet more families' Short Break needs, but in order to continue to do this we recognised that we needed to review the current situation and adapt accordingly. With that in mind, over the first half of 2020 we spent some time looking at different areas of our service, to see what was working well, and whether there was anything we could improve. We asked for feedback from families and professionals to help us do this via some special events, our weekly eNews and direct emails to AU members.  

We looked at four key focus areas:

1. Our short break award assessment and allocation process

2. Our AU Holiday Lodges

3. Our Grant Funded Short Break Provision

4. Our website

You can view a brief infographic about each stage here, or for more in-depth information about the various stages of the review, please click the drop down menus below.

Screenshot 19

Next Steps

We are planning for the below changes to begin from April 2021 and will continue to involve and engage families, colleagues and providers with our work via the AU Newsletter, direct contact and virtual meetings.

 

1. AU Short Break Award / Assessment and Allocation

We will consider a tiered approach for the offer of personal budgets, so instead of having just two funded offers there will be a variety of awards ranging up to £1000 in tiers.  This will enable funding offers to better match each family’s needs and be more accurate.

We will improve our current online assessment form to make it easier to use and understand, and more accurately capture needs with a requirement for families to update their information every year.

We will introduce a banding system which will give clear eligibility criteria for families and will include other support services they are accessing, such as DLA, type of Education, support from Social Care etc. This will be considered alongside the assessment form.

We will introduce flexible budgets. These could change each year, depending on the number of families eligible and the budget available.

 

2. Holiday Lodges

We are now working with our Property Colleagues within Suffolk County Council to progress the sale of the lodges at East Bergholt and Dunwich.

We are also writing a business case to present to our Capital Programme Board, requesting permission to keep the money from the sale of the lodges to refurbish the remaining lodge and invest in our universal (non-grant funded) provision.

Our proposal is to hold a pot of money that universal providers can apply for to purchase equipment, small adaptations and training, in order to help them to become more inclusive and offer more activities to families with children and young people with SEND. 

 

3.  Grant Funded Short Break Provision

We will use the feedback from the review to develop services and change the way we purchase some of the provision to longer term contracts, in order to give activity providers a more stable and sustainable position.

 

4. Website

We will move the AU website to become part of the Local Offer website (www.suffolklocaloffer.org.uk), so that all information for families with children and young people with SEND will be available in one place in line with Government guidance. AU will have their own section within the Local Offer website.

We will develop a new online portal for parents where they will be able to register and access their account, complete the online assessment and other required forms, update their information, upload their receipts and spending records. We will also be able to send notifications directly to parents to let them know when there is a new message or letter in the portal for them to read.

 

If you have questions about any aspect of the work we have undertaken so far, would like to get involved or receive updates on the review as it progresses, you can contact us at info@activities-unlimited.co.uk.