Summary: The evaluation of a project instigated by a voluntary group provided an opportunity to investigate the benefits of holiday breaks to both carers and participants. Feedback was obtained from over 100 people with intellectual disabilities through individual and group interviews, as well as from their carers using self-completed questionnaires.
Findings: Overall, the breaks were thoroughly enjoyed by the project members, providing them with a range of activities and leisure pursuits in the company of their friends and, on certain breaks, with non-disabled people as well. Carers reported more benefits to their relative in the later years of the project and became more willing for their relative to attend.
Applications: Three main issues are discussed: the use of mainstream settings and services, rather than specialist facilities, to provide short breaks; how best to encourage other carers of people with more significant needs to avail themselves of these opportunities; and ways of improving the social and leisure networks of people living with families so that the benefits of the ‘holiday’ experience could be recreated more locally and more frequently.