Background: Previous research identifies positive and negative effects of being a sibling in a family which includes a disabled child. Short break services (also known as respite) provide families with a break from caring and offer disabled children the chance to participate in various activities. This paper investigates the effects that these short breaks have on siblings. Methods: The research consists of a qualitative analysis of data collected as part of a survey of families using short break services. Data from 239 parent-carers (mostly biological parents) and 84 siblings are included in the analysis. Data are written responses to open questions about use of services and the effects they have. Results: The effects of short breaks on siblings are described as being mostly positive. Short breaks have the potential to ameliorate some of the negative impacts of being a sibling in a family with a disabled child whilst also promoting the positive impacts of having a disabled brother or sister. However, some siblings also report some adverse effects of short breaks. Conclusion: Short breaks have a significant role to play in promoting the wellbeing of siblings; however, their role currently seems to be largely unrecognised and consequently undervalued.
- Short break