Shropshire Council

Short Breaks service: Residential stays at the Willow

  • Period: 06 October 2015 - 20 November 2015
  • Status: Closed
  • Audiences: Parents/carers
  • Topics: Children's services, Youth services, Commissioning, Family services, Health and wellbeing, Big Conversation
  • Type: Public


Together with Action for Children (AFC), we are reviewing one of the Short Break services we commission. The service provides residential overnight stays for children with special educational needs and or a disability. We would like to hear from families who are currently using the Willows as well as those who may use The Willows in the near future.

Our position

We buy overnight Short Break stays from Action for Children (AFC) at the Willows, based in Belle View, Shrewsbury. 23 families currently use the service.

AFC are contracted to deliver the service until March 2017.

Referrals for the service has dropped and we expect to have a significant number of overnights which will not be needed or used. This puts financial pressures on both us and AFC at a time when both organisations are required to make the best use of their resources.

We're looking for ways to improve the situation so that the service can continue and work efficiently from April 2016 until March 2017.

A simple reduction in the number of nights is not a solution. This is an unsustainable position for Action for Children who have to maintain safe staff and quality levels, even if they are looking after fewer children.

This means making changes to the way it is delivered.

Together with AFC, we want to seek parents’ views on two specific proposals.

We also want to know whether parents have other proposals we should consider.

What we want to achieve 

What we want to achieve is that we can continue to meet our legal duty to provide a range of Short Breaks for families in Shropshire, including overnight respite. At the same time we want to improve the position at the Willows so that the service can continue until March 2017. We need to work together to find a solution that works equally well for parents, AFC and the council.

In other words we want to:

  • Maintain the service at the Willows until the end of the current contract with Action for Children, which is 31 March 2017.
  • Maintain the quality of care and safe staffing levels at the Willows. This includes enabling Action for Children to continue to provide staff training.
  • Continue to ensure that when your child is at the Willows, he/she will be with other compatible children.
  • Maintain what works well for you. This is based on what you have told us in the past, what you like and value about the Willows.
  • Continue to pay for sufficient nights at the Willows. By this we mean pay for current stays, pay for anticipated new stays and pay for 15 extra nights even if they are not used, in case there is an emergency or an unexpected event.
  • Reduce what we don't use at the Willows. By this we mean we want to stop paying for beds which we are unlikely to use in between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017.


Option 1 

From April 1 2016 until 31 March 2017:

  • AFC to deliver five days a week, for 52 weeks.(Including staff training and two day Christmas closure)

We have not yet decided which two days could be closed, this would be decided based on response from parents.

Option 2

From April 1 2016 until 31 March 2017:

  • AFC to deliver five days a week during school term time (39 weeks)
  • AFC to deliver seven days a week during holiday time (11 weeks)
  • AFC to close two full weeks during school holidays 

We have not yet decided which two days would be closed. This would be decided based on response from parents.

We have not yet decided which two weeks would be closed. Again, this would be decided based on response from parents.

What happens next?

Click on the "How to get involved' tab at the top of the page to access our short feedback survey to tell us what you think. 

A project group made up of council, AFC and parent representatives will evaluate all proposals and choose one which would best meet what we described above in the "What we want to achieve" information. 

We will then inform all families via AFC staff, social workers, PACC and IASS.

Having read all the information provided, take a few minutes to complete our short feedback survey around the proposals suggested.

Access the survey »

Data protection

Information collected in our surveys will only be used by us (Shropshire Council) to inform the immediate and future provision of our services. The information you provide will be kept confidential in accordance with our Privacy Policy. It will not be shared outside of Shropshire Council. Information collected via our online surveys (hosted on the Surveymonkey website) will be stored on SurveyMonkey’s servers in the United States of America and SurveyMonkey gives an undertaking never to disclose the survey questions or your responses to others without permission.