Short breaks and respite care

This section talks about ways in which your family might be supported through short breaks for children with an acquired brain injury.

The pressures of any illness or condition can put a family under strain. Your local authority and charitable organisations in your area may offer some form of short breaks/respite care. Put simply, it’s about recognising that everyone needs a break from time-to-time.

Note: You may hear this kind of help from your local authority described as short breaks or respite care. This is because in recent years there has been a shift in the use of language. For the purposes of our information, we’ll talk in terms of ‘short breaks’.

Since April 2011, local authorities have been under a duty to provide a short breaks service to carers of disabled children. Local authorities also have an obligation to publish the ‘eligibility criteria’ for short breaks. This should spell out who is able to receive short breaks in that area. Who is eligible can vary between different local authorities.1 

Short breaks come in many different forms. They might be a chance for the family to get away together, or they may be a break for the child by themselves. Someone might take your child out for an activity one afternoon a week, or it may be more everyday care in the home.

The break might last a few hours, a whole weekend, or anything in between. It might take place at a unit with staff on-hand to help out, or may simply take the form of an activity one afternoon.

It took the edge off everything... It meant I had a bit more time to get on top of things. It might sound funny, but having a little bit of time to catch up on my reading made a big difference." Parent's experience

How do I know if my child is eligible?

There is no central co-ordination of short breaks services. Instead, each local authority makes its own decisions about who is eligible.

It’s best to get in touch with your local authority to find out what their eligibility criteria are.

Registering your child with the local authority.

Local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are obliged to keep a register of disabled children and young people in the area.2 But it is entirely up to a parent as to whether or not they want to register their child.

The idea is that the register helps the authority get a better picture of the needs of the children in its area. It may be used as a mailing list to send out useful information.  

What are my options?

Residential short breaks at The Children’s Trust may be an option, offering flexible, nurse-led care for children and young people between the ages of 0-18. Other charities can also help with further information on short breaks.

Life as a carer

Yasmeen, mum of Shakeerah, shares her experience as a parent-carer for Carers Week 2019.


  1. The Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children Regulations 2011. Available at:
  2. The Citizens Advice Bureau:…