Beginning Short Breaks & Respite Care

Rebecca Toal by Rebecca Toal Additional Needs

Rebecca Toal

Rebecca Toal

Blessed, busy mum to four beautiful girls, the youngest with complex special needs due to extreme prematurity. We are always looking for ways to ma...

Our youngest daughter Brielle first got introduced to a local respite facility for children and young people with disabilities over a year ago.

It started off very slowly, a short visit with me to say ‘hello’ and then we’d leave her there a few hours at a time once a month after that.

Then we progressed being picked up from school by the centre and I’d pick her up before bedtime, around 4 hours in total.

I remember her key worker (social worker) coming for an initial assessment and filling out reams of paperwork. Must have been about 2 hours we chatted in our living room for. Of course, at more than one point I got emotional about how great a girl Brielle is, what a blessing she is to us despite being such a handful… I also got a bit terry at the idea of letting her go into someone else’s care, outside of our home.

Brielle has two carers who regularly come in a couple hours at a time to watch her, sometimes take her on a long walk to the park.

But a short break, a respite centre is OUTSIDE of our family environment, outside of our care.

One of my daughters who is particularly maternal and protective was very adamant at first that she definitely did not want Brielle going there, that there was no way she would like it or be happy away from us.

It is most certainly hard to let go of some degree of control, of the protective instinct to care for and protect her at all costs.

Well, let me tell you, Brielle has now had 2 overnights there and she did AMAZING! She absolutely loves “W.H.”, and will sign the letters over and over again!

It was not easy saying goodbye her first night. At nine years old, it was her first night (not counting some early long stay hospital admissions) away from us all.

But I think is really great for her developing a sense of independence, as well as adventure and adaptability.

And it has been great for the bigger three sisters, to have a hands-free “fun” mum- you know, one who can take a leisurely walk down to the beach at sunset and run into the water to swim for a change with them… because I didn’t have to stay on the shore and watch them with Brielle.

So for Brielle and our family, overnight respite has been really positive.

She’ll be offered 2 nights a month from now on, and as long as she’s happy and loving it, all of us are happy. Thankful to our Trust for the service & care for kiddos like her.


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