A team of 32 volunteers from Compass Lexecon worked for UK charity Together for Short Lives over 18 months through the Pro-Bono Economics scheme, producing evidence of the important benefits of short respite breaks for families caring for a seriously ill child.
The economic analysis for the Together For Short Lives ‘Give Me a Break’ campaign suggests that the benefits of providing short breaks to carer parents extend beyond the parents themselves. The findings showed that short breaks generate public benefits through cost-savings to the healthcare system and increased tax revenue. The team estimated that parents of children in palliative care would experience significantly less stress as a result of receiving breaks – moving them out of the ‘most stressed’ category of society. As a result, the breaks improve parents’ physical and mental health and reduce their demand for NHS care. They reduce the number of sick days parents need to take off work, leading to improved productivity and additional tax revenue. They are also likely to have a positive impact on siblings and reduce the risk of parental relationships breaking down.
The key findings are as follows:
- We found evidence that 11.7% of parents of children in palliative care would experience a significant reduction in stress as a result of providing them with short breaks;
- For every parent who experiences a reduction in stress we would expect this to reduce expenditure on GP visits by £41 and mental health expenditure by £921;
- For every parent who experiences a reduction in stress we would expect this to reduce the number of days taken off work by around 2-3 days per year; and
- The total potential benefits to taxpayers from providing short breaks to all parents of children in palliative care could be in the region of c£5 million per year, based on the assumption that there to be around 25,000 children who need palliative care in the UK, with parents most commonly acting as their primary carer.
Volunteer Bernard Lee (Economist, Paris) commented on his experience of working with Pro Bono Economics; “Through this project, I learned about the unique challenges that the non-profit sector faces, and how our approach and insights as economists can be helpful.”