BU research into respite care raised in Prime Minister’s Questions

BU research into the impact that respite care at children’s hospices has on parental relationships was raised during Prime Minister’s Questions.

The research is being done by BU PhD student Ashley Mitchell in conjunction with Dorset-based children’s hospice Julia’s House and looks at how different types of respite care – and how regularly and frequently they are accessed –  impact on the relationship of the parents.

The work was highlighted by Mid-Dorset and North Poole MP Annette Brooke during Prime Minister’s Questions, while asking about funding into short breaks for carers.

She said: “Julia’s House, a wonderful children’s hospice in my constituency, is currently carrying out research with Bournemouth University into the impact of short breaks on family relationships.

“Will the Prime Minister give higher priority to the funding of short breaks as an invest to save measure?”

Prime Minister David Cameron, whose severely disabled son Ivan had hospice care prior to his death in 2009, responded: “I absolutely agree with my honorable friend about the issue.

“Anyone bringing up a severely disabled child knows that when you find one of those hospices – and I’ll never forget finding Helen House in Oxford, which was actually the first children’s hospice anywhere in the country – it is a complete lifesaver for families and carries out brilliant, brilliant work.

“That’s why we have committed over £800 million for local authorities to invest in short breaks for disabled children and I’m sure that this research from Bournemouth University will help to inform our work in the future.”

Ashley is currently interviewing parents who use different hospices around England to inform the development of a national questionnaire.

The four specific aims of investigation are:

1. To explore parents’ perceptions of parenting life limited/ threatened children or young people on their relationships.

2. To determine if frequent and regular respite care enhances parental relationships compared to those who receive respite care less frequently and regularly or not at all.

3. To identify effects on relationships of parents receiving home and hospice-based respite care compared to those receiving hospice-based respite care only or home-based care only.

4. To identify societal factors influencing parental relationships of families receiving respite care.