A Lifetime of Care - Assistance Routes for Cerebral Palsy
At SJP Law, our team specialises in supporting families caring for children with cerebral palsy.
Whilst many people with cerebral palsy are able to live active, independent lives, others can have significant learning difficulties and physical disabilities, requiring near-constant care and on-going support.
Caring for children with severe cerebral palsy can be a challenge, and getting the right support will make a real difference to both yourself, and to your child. We are here to assure you that there are a number of options and resources that you can look into for support throughout your child's early life, and beyond.
Support in education
Some children with cerebral palsy will be perfectly able to cope in mainstream school with minimum intervention. However, children with learning disabilities, and those with more serious physical disabilities will often require additional support.
This may amount to support in a mainstream school setting, but in more severe cases children may need to attend specialist school, including therapeutic input, specialist equipment, specialist teachers and support staff.
Thankfully, the UK education system is well equipped to support children with SEN (special educational needs and disabilities). Parents can expect the support of a SEN coordinator at their child’s nursery or school, and apply to the local authority for assistance if their child is not in school.
Benefits and grants
There are a number of government benefits available to parents looking after children with cerebral palsy, including Disability Living Allowance for Children and Carer’s Allowance. The amount received will depend on the financial position of the family, and the needs of the child.
Further information about carers and disability benefits and how to apply can be found at https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/disability.
Should a family need to adapt their home to cater for the needs of a child with cerebral palsy, they can also apply to the local council for a Disabled Facilities Grant, up to a maximum value of £30,000. This is not dependent on income or savings if the changes are for a child under the age of 18.
Charity and support groups
Cerebral palsy affects around 1800 UK children each year, and there are a number of national and regional charities, forums and online support networks dedicated to supporting families caring for children with Cerebral Palsy.
From providing advice and emotional support, to sharing knowledge and helping to fund specialist equipment, therapy and care, resources like those found at http://www.cerebralpalsy.org.uk/links.html can be invaluable. There are also additional links listed within the Building a support network local to you section below.
Challenges in growing up
The challenge of caring for children with severe cases of cerebral palsy can become more difficult as time progresses.
Simply put, children can get bigger and heavier, and in cases where children have serious physical or developmental difficulties, this can make everyday care more challenging – especially as parents get older.
Perhaps the most difficult time for parents is when their child finishes school or college. Up to this point, they will have received support during the day in caring for their child. When this ends, families are left to cope on their own.
At this point, those caring for young adults with severe cerebral palsy have some new challenges to consider. Whilst there are government benefits available, these will not pay for full time care at home. This leaves parents facing a difficult decision – to continue caring for their child at home full time, or to send their child into residential care.
When making these decisions, there are a number of organisations who are equipped to offer advice, and support to both you and your child. It is important to remember that you are not alone during these challenging times, and that others are going, and have gone through similar circumstances.
There are a number of organisations set up locally and regionally around Hull and East Yorkshire that will offer volunteering programmes, as well as career advice to your child as they become a young adult and look to explore career opportunities within their means, no matter whether they are still in your care, or receiving residential support.
Building a support network local to you
While you are working with SJP to help you and your family ease any stress, we would encourage you to look into these local resources to assist you in coping, and enabling your child's personal development and growth.
Hull and Doncaster-based organisation, Disabled Entrepreneurs (a group of young professionals aged 18-60 with a range of disabilities [including cerebral palsy] will be able to offer some advice from their own experience – from childhood, and early adulthood – to support your family's needs.
For more information visit: http://www.disabledentrepreneurs.co.uk
Hull-based organisation, Special Stars is a charity supporting disabled people in Hull and East Yorkshire. This organisation contains some motivational examples of people who have succeeded through young adult life.
For more information visit: http://www.heyspecialstars.co.uk
The Hull Council for Disabled People is a resource that has been available to those within the area for the last 24 years, and they are still going strong today. This group offers personal advice and support for a range of issues facing disabled people, as well as their families.
For more information visit: http://www.hcdp.karoo.net
Additionally, Connect To Support offer some comprehensive resources for families living with disabled young people – more can be found here: https://www.connecttosupport.org
Compensation for Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy can be caused by clinical negligence, either during pregnancy, birth or after. In these cases, families are entitled to compensation, which can be used to provide the right level of care and support for their child throughout his or her life.
In addition to paying for professional care, compensation can be used to fund properties, specialist equipment, counselling and therapy – enabling parents to spend less time caring, whilst enjoying more quality time with their child.
Many families choose not to pursue compensation initially, feeling that they will cope or manage only to find later that they need more support. Thankfully, there are no time limitations, and parents can and do bring cases forward years or even decades after birth.
At SJP Law, our specialist team works closely with families to help them to make the right decisions on the best way forward. Representing them throughout their legal cases and beyond, we help them to win the compensation needed to provide the best care and quality of life for their child.
For additional information on how SJP Law can support families in Cerebral Palsy Cases, or if you know a family that needs support, please feel free to call me on 01482 316742 at your earliest convenience.