Respite care aims to give the carer a break from their caring role. This could be an occasional overnight during the week so the carer gets a good night’s sleep; an afternoon every week, or for a longer period of time. Respite care is so important for both the cared for person and their carer, and it can often be required urgently, so it is worth planning ahead to know what your options could be.
The first step is to get a local authority assessment for the person doing the caring. Along with a needs assessment to establish both the needs of the person cared for as well as the carer, they will also do a financial assessment, which may mean that the person being cared for is charged for respite services, according to their means.
The main types of respite care
- Residential Respite: the person cared for is looked after by someone else for a while, either in residential or nursing care, or on holiday; it is worth checking out local care homes to see if they provide respite care
- Domiciliary Care: someone comes into the home and takes over care for a while (for a few hours or sometimes overnight);
- Day care centres: places someone being cared for can go during the day;
- Respite Holidays/hotels: there are some hotels that will also provide respite care, so that carers and those cared for can go on holiday together.
Following on from the assessments, the local authority should offer a choice in the way that the services they suggest are provided, and may well provide the funds through the Direct Payments system, to you/the person caring to buy the service directly from the appropriate agency or person.
NHS Intermediate Care
NHS intermediate care is free temporary care at home for 6 weeks following a stay in hospital, or to enable the person being cared for to stay at home following an emergency breakdown in care services (for example, a caring partner has been taken into hospital). If your parent has been in hospital, the hospital social work team will arrange the care before the patient is discharged. If your parent is at home, contact their local social services department, and make sure you let them know that it is an emergency situation.
There are lots of levels of respite care and service providers. Some useful links are below.
For an overall perspective on respite care: Which? Elderly Care.
For at home domiciliary care options: UK Homecare.
It is also worth contacting local charities such as AgeUK, MacMillan, Carers Trust and Royal Voluntary Service, as there will be other local low cost options to consider as well.
If you have experience of finding respite care for your parent or friend, or would like to ask other’s advice and read about their experience, have a look at Age Space Forum.