Respite care services for families caring for a person with an intellectual disability: decision making, experience and models of respite

Health and Well-being

Respite care services for families caring for a person with an intellectual disability: decision making, experience and models of respite

Project synopsis

Home Share contacted UCC’s CARL Initiative regarding an issue they were facing. They sought an evaluation of how family-based models of respite care locate themselves within the current climate of respite care provision, with a view to informing the CSO on the future provision of their family-based respite service.

Home Share Clare

“Home Share” is an innovative and cost-efficient type of respite, whereby host-families welcome children and adults with disabilities into their own homes as an alternative or complement to more institutional services. Using a CBR approach, the CSO’s research issue was translated into a research project in a three-way partnership between the representative from Home Share Clare, two MSW students and academic supervisor.

The research compared the Home Share model to the more traditional model of community-based residential respite care through both a literature review and primary research carried out with participants that use both models of respite care. In doing so, the research aimed to understand how carers came to the decision to use respite services, their feelings surrounding this, and their experiences of using two particular models of respite care.

Learning outcomes:

  • Examine and respond to research questions relevant to social work through completion of a 10,000 word dissertation.
  • Reflect upon and articulate their own learning arising from engaging in research.
  • Identify the principles of community based research and the implications for their research approach.
  • Apply CBR principles during their research including negotiating the design of the project with a community partner.

Other outcomes include an introduction to participatory CBR approach, a sense of vitality of research and working in partnership (including considerable challenges), and an opportunity to change the world (a small bit at least).

This research found that, while both community-based and family-based models of respite care are identified in the literature, current policy and funding in Ireland is largely tied up in delivering community-based models. Asa result, this has remained the dominant model of respite care available to carers.
Project outcomes (longer term):

  • The CSO leveraged initial funding of €30,000 for the continuation of the project and have €100,000 allocated now per year.
  • Home Share was featured on RTE’s Nationwide in July 27th 2012.
  • Students presented their findings and discussed their recommendations at two national conferences.
  • HSE referred to this research in their published report “Respite/Residential Care with Host Families in Community Settings”.

School of Applied Social Studies

Further Details & Assessment:

The project comprises the students’ Masters Dissertation. In some instances the final report is published as an open access resource on the CARL website. Students provide a summary report and presentation on the findings of the research prior to submitting their dissertation. They also work with CSO representative on the development of recommendations emerging from the work to ensure that the recommendations are linked to the CSOs strategic vision, as well as reflect their capacity to deliver on these.

Credit weighting:


Academic Contact:

Kenneth Burns