Developing overnight support for children with disabilities

Developing how we offer overnight support for children with disabilities 

We want to make sure that we provide overnight support in the way that best meets the needs and wishes of families, children and young people. 

Over the past year parents, carers, young people and some of the workforce have shared views and ideas about overnight support in questionnaires, at group sessions and talking to us. The Speak Out Council's Young Person's Representative has spent time with some children and young people at the residential children's homes to seek their views.  We have also been liaising with other areas of the country to share and learn from each other as well as using our data to estimate future needs.

Key messages from feedback

  • Trust, reliability, quality of support and paying attention to what’s really important to the child, is key whatever type of overnight support it is
  • There needs to be a range of support to meet different needs – support in own home, support in a carers home, residential, support to meet complex medical and health needs
  • Weekends and holidays are the time of greatest need
  • When support is needed, it needs to be in place quickly
  • Availability and skills of workers crucial
  • Lots of creative ideas about combining an overnight break with a fun, social or learning opportunity for children
  • Everyone needs clear and simple information about what is available

Key messages about future plans

  • Having a range of options is good
  • More options for direct payments welcomed
  • Different Technology can be really helpful - but people need to know about them and develop confidence in them
  • Focus on the overnight support being positive for the child as well as break for family
  • Make sure that overnight support helps with developing skills and independence as relevant to each child and young person
  • Want clear information about what’s available and decision making process and the workforce to know about this as well
  • General views on quality, reliability, information and choice reinforced those shared in previous sessions and information gathering

Summary of views from children and young people August - December 2019

Summary of views from 'parents overnight support sessions' - September to October 2019

What we have done

  • Extended the availability of Direct Payments for overnight support
  • Updated our Direct payment guidelines to include overnight support.
  • We have shared the feedback and views with overnight support providers and our own workforce and they are using it to inform their work
  • Increased our knowledge and use of technology so that it can be used, when it might be helpful, to support getting a good night’s sleep
  • Cambridgeshire County Councils Children and Young People Committee agreed (January meeting) for the three Residential Overnights Homes in Cambridgeshire to transfer to the County Council.
  • There is:

    • A wider range of options for overnight support
    • More flexibility for families
    • We can still respond in an emergency when that’s needed
    • Information about what’s available and relevant processes in a timely manner

What next

  • In September 2020 the 3 Residential Overnights Homes for Children with Disabilities in Cambridgeshire will transfer to Cambridgeshire County Council.  This means that Cambridgeshire County Council will manage and run these services. 

    We will continue to work on increasing choice and flexibility.

If you have any comments, queries or suggestions please get in touch with


Initial consultation details and feedback
May to June 2019

The consultation closed in May 2019. The information below was the background and options for the consultation.

Background to the consultation

  • Needs, wishes and expectations change over time
  • The current contract for residential overnight care for children with disabilities up to age 18 ends in October 2020
  • We have a higher demand for overnights short breaks (one or two nights at a time) than we currently have available
  • We have a reduced need for longer term residential care
  • We need to be able to offer overnight support across the county and reduce travelling time where possible
  • We are getting more requests for overnight support in the child’s home
  • We want to be able to offer more choice to children, young people and families
  • Whilst we always aim to meet needs in planned way with families we know that sometimes there will be unforeseen emergencies and we need to be in a position to respond to them

Some options for overnight support

We want to consider providing a wider range than currently available such as:

  • Overnight support in child’s home when this meets needs
  • Overnight support with Link foster carers
  • Enable use of direct payments for families to employ workers to provide overnight support
  • Shared and longer term residential care
  • Residential short breaks if this is needed
  • Provision of safe, temporary support in an emergency which could be in child’s home or elsewhere

Please note: Some of the above are already available in Cambridgeshire.  There is no intention to reduce the amount of overnight support and it will continue to be provided based on individual assessment as at present.

Summary of the consultation feedback - June 2019

aOvernight support views summary
74 parents and carers in total shared their views. This is a summary of the feedback.
Size: 630KBFile format: pdf
aQuestionnaire Summary Overnight Support
62 people completed the questionnaire. This is a summary of the responses.
Size: 427KBFile format: pdf
Consultation groups-2
We held two group sessions for parents and carers, This is a summary of what was said in the sessions.
Size: 1.1MBFile format: pdf