Page last updated at 07:48 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

New respite care team for county

A new team offering respite care to parents of severely disabled children has been set up in Gloucestershire.

The contract caring team will work full time, unlike most of the county council's 80 carers who combine caring with jobs or family responsibilities.

The team will specialise in looking after children with the greatest needs, such as wheelchair users or those with high levels of autism.

It is hoped to offer parents a short break from caring for up to 24 hours.

Councillor Paul McLain, cabinet member for young people, said: "Short breaks are an absolute lifeline for families.

'Recharge batteries'

"They give parents and carers vital time and space to recharge their batteries and are so valued by the children.

"It can be challenging but the rewards are incredible."

Paula Wilcox, 37, from Gloucester, has two sons aged 10 and eight with autism.

"Special needs can be overwhelming," she said.

"Friends don't know how I cope, but I've been doing it so long I'm used to it - it is completely normal to me.

"But I do need a breather and I am so grateful for what [the carers] do for the boys and the family."

Sometimes, the boys are cared for by Jaki and Martin Davis.

Mr Davis said: "It makes such a difference to them. Regular respite can help the rest of the family function."

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