Released On 3rd Jun 2015

A Short Break Carer’s story: “Children have great determination and courage”

Hi, I’m Michelle, I am 37 years old, and based in Wells. I have been a Short Break Carer for 17 years, having grown up with disabled children and children in care – my mum has been a Foster Carer and Short Break Carer since I was 3 years old.

I always knew as a child that I would be a Short Break Carer and Foster Carer, because of these experiences. I find it very rewarding to help families who need support, but also get a huge amount of enjoyment when spending time with these very special children.

I worked at the opportunity playgroup and met many families in need of support, so started off having some of these children for short breaks initially. I then moved on to work at a special needs school as a teaching assistant.

I have cared for children of all ages, from 4 to 18 years, and continue to care for some of these people into their adulthood.

The children I have cared for have had a variety of needs. Many have had autism, and many others have had varying physical disabilities. These have included cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Down’s syndrome, genetic syndromes, varying degrees of learning difficulties, communication difficulties, and specific medical needs. There have been some children who need feeding through gastrostomy tubes, some who have had quite challenging behaviours. I have cared for children with life-limiting diseases, mental health issues, and from many different types of family backgrounds.

The thing I most enjoy about Short Break Care is seeing the progress the children make, despite some of the challenges they face. They have great determination and courage, and with the right input and patience these children can achieve so much.

I get a huge amount of job satisfaction, and really feel I am making a difference to a child’s life. I think to be a Short Break Carer, you need to be patient, understanding, kind, fun, have good communication skills, be able to be open minded and reliable.

I would encourage people to become Short Break Carers. It can be hugely rewarding for yourself, but also can make a huge difference to a child’s life, as well as helping families who need support and breaks quite desperately at times.

Your input could help keep a family together, or could offer support that could prevent a situation getting to crisis point, where parents are too exhausted to cope, or many other very difficult scenarios that families with a disabled child sadly face at times.

If you’re interested in Michelle’s story, and want to find out more about becoming a Short Break Carer or Foster Carer with Somerset County Council, please phone our friendly team on 0800 587 9900, click here or request a free information booklet.

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