Respite care explained
Respite care allows you or your caring parent a well-earned break from caring responsibilities.
However daunting it may feel to leave the care to someone else for even the shortest of times, it’s good to know what options are available so you can put in place plans best suited to your situation. Don’t forget that you may also need emergency respite care at short notice too.
What is elderly respite care?
This all depends on what you need. It can be a break for just one night to catch up on some sleep up to a longer period of time to allow for a proper holiday.
If one of your parents cares for the other it’s easy to underestimate the toll it takes on them – particularly if there are broken nights of sleep. Being responsible for the health and well-being of someone increasingly frail is utterly exhausting and incredibly stressful. Most of them hide it very well.
4 types of respite care
- Residential respite – care is provided in a residential home, a nursing home or a local care home if they offer short-term facilities.
- Domiciliary or Homecare – arranging for someone to provide care in the home will minimise the disruption. This can either be accessed via a professional homecare service or perhaps through a local charity.
- Day care centres – a trip to a day care centre offers company and a choice of activities. They are usually geared up for socialising, but some can offer personal care – along with transport to and fro.
- Respite holidays – this can be a real win-win. Increasing numbers of holidays – hotels, cruises etc – offer breaks for carers and specialist accommodation for people needing extra care.
But – never forget family and friends – if they are happy to provide temporary care, this offer of support can be invaluable, especially at short notice.
NHS Intermediate care
You may find yourself in a situation where the care takes an unexpected turn and your parent requires more care in the short-term than you can provide.
This could be after an injury or illness – or you yourself are unwell or unable to provide the care.
NHS intermediate care is free temporary care which takes place at home, in a care home or at a hospital, for a maximum of 6 weeks. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s Quick guide to intermediate care services is a useful read.
Who pays for respite care?
You have a few options regarding funding, depending on the type of respite care required and your circumstances.
If you are not paying for the care yourself, your local council may help with the costs. To see if you qualify for funding you’ll need to contact your council to arrange for a financial assessment.
Being assessed for respite care
Whether you think you might be eligible for help towards the costs or not, you should arrange for a carer’s assessment as the council has a duty to look after the carer and ensure their needs are met.
If you’d like support or help with the costs associated with caring for your parent they will need to have a care assessment.
The adult social care department of the local authority will carry out the assessments, and decide how much funding or support they will be able to provide.
Planning for an emergency
In case you have to arrange care at short notice it is worth putting some plans in place in advance. These might include:
- Back up service/care from family or friends
- Research available services “just in case”
- Compile important information such as medication list
- Keysafe for a spare set of keys
- Plans for what to do with eg the dog
In addition to provide providers or the local authority a number of charities will offer some services. You could try Age UK, Macmillan, Carers Trust or Royal Voluntary Service.
Beyond respite care
There may come a point where you feel that your caring role is not a sustainable option. Many of the organisations that provide respite care, particularly domiciliary and homecare companies, also offer longer-term homecare solutions.
A regular carer, or live-in care, are both options worth considering if you feel that you need a greater degree of support in caring for your relative. If this sounds like it may be appropriate in your situation, take a look at our list of 10 of the best live-in care agencies and providers.