Pro Bono Economics found that providing short breaks for parent carers of children in palliative care could provide significant benefits to wider society by improving the mental and physical health of those parent carers. This reduces the demand on health and mental health services, as well as improving absenteeism and productivity in the workplace.  

Together for Short Lives (TFSL) is a UK charity which drives for a better quality of life and end of life for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions, by supporting and speaking up for those childrenfamilies and those that support and care for them. 

The parents of children in need of palliative care are often the primary carer; facing psychological, physical and social distress due to the responsibilities of their roles. One of the ways to help carers deal with stress and improve their quality of life is to provide short breaks, to allow parents to reconnect with their partners, catch up on work and errands or simply spend time alone, without the immediate need of attention that is often required. 

TFSL asked Pro Bono Economics (PBE) to estimate the potential taxpayer benefits if all parents providing palliative care for their children were able to access short breaks. 

The PBE research, conducted in partnership with volunteers from Compass Lexecon, focused on estimating the potential benefits of short breaks through three key channels: improved physical health, improved mental health and improved work attendance. We found that for each parent carer who experiences a reduction in stress as a result of a short break: 

  • Expenditure on GP visits would reduce by £41 per year 
  • Expenditure on mental health would reduce by £920 per year 
  • Number of days taken off work would reduce by 2-3 days per year. 

However, these estimates were based on evidence that only a proportion of parent cares would experience a reduction in their stress levels – being moved out of the ‘most stressed’ category of society. The available evidence related to a wider group of parent carers than those caring for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. Therefore, the evidence may understate the impact of short breaks on those parent carers whose children are seriously ill.  

Therefore, it’s important to note that this is a conservative estimate, as our report only focuses on how short breaks reduce costs to public services via parents’ stress reduction. Our report includes a series of recommendations that could help facilitate further assessments of the potential economic impacts of short breaks for parents providing palliative care. 

We hope that our evidence can further support the case for helping those parents who are dealing with such demanding and challenging situations. 

Thank you to Marta Adembri, Iria Camba, Cecily Josten, Bernard Lee, Alina Mika and Josep Peya from Compass Lexecon for their work on this project.

About Compass Lexecon

Compass Lexecon is internationally recognized as a leading economic consulting firm with preeminent competition, finance, international arbitration, intellectual property and energy practices. With more than 500 professionals in 22 offices around the world, Compass Lexecon offers a global perspective on economic matters. For the past 14 years, Compass Lexecon has been ranked as one of the leading antitrust economics firms in the world by the Global Competition Review. To learn more about Compass Lexecon or to find one of our professionals, please visit Compass Lexecon LLC is a subsidiary of FTI Consulting LLC.

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