Becoming a carer for a loved one can be a demanding job; you might be looking after a partner, friend, or relative, who requires care and support with a disability, illness or due to their physical or mental health. When you’re caring for someone it’s essential that you take time for yourself by finding short term care for your dependant. This is known as respite care.
In this section:
What is respite care?
Respite care is usually a short stay at a care home that can be planned ahead, or in the case of an emergency, last minute. It’s suitable for individuals seeking support following post-operative or hospital care, or whilst their regular caregiver takes a break. Respite care can also be used as a way of introducing long-term residential care to a loved one.
At Abbeyfield our respite services include, but aren’t limited to:
- 24/7 care support from our qualified and friendly staff.
- Daily activities.
- Nutritious meals served daily (dietary requirements can be catered for).
- Housekeeping and linen service.
Why is respite care important?
Taking a break from looking after a loved one is important, as caring for someone is a demanding job. Respite care offers you the chance to rest or see to with other commitments in your life.
What are respite care services?
Depending on your loved ones and your needs, there are a number of different options including:
- live-in care: where a carer will live in the house, providing care and support day and night
- homecare: where a carer will come for a couple of hours a day or each week
- short stay in a care home: temporarily living in a care home where your loved one will receive care at the home
- respite holidays: where your loved one can go on a holiday experience with respite care included, you can go on holiday with your loved one so you get a change of scenery or the carer goes on holiday whilst their loved one is cared for by someone else for a period of time
- or a day centres: that allow people to socialise and find companionship by taking part in activities – some offer additional services like hairdressing, chiropody and assisted bathing, and sometimes transport can be provided but there could be an additional charge
These different options allow you to be sure that care services are always available to support your loved one when they need it.
What services does respite care provide?
How long does respite care last?
Respite care is a short term passage of care, often for one to two weeks, from a carer who is different to your usual provider. Depending on the circumstances it can be delivered in your own home or in a care home.
How can I get respite care?
As there are many options for respite care, there are different ways to apply. The first step is to get an assessment done by searching for your Local Authority Adult Social Care Service in order to find out if you’ll qualify for council-funded services. There are two types of assessments, one for carers which is called a carer’s assessment and one for the person you’re looking after which is called a needs assessment.
The care needs assessment will look at a number of things and in order to qualify for help you need to meet a set of criteria including having a physical or mental need, you have an illness, there is an impact on your wellbeing because you’re not getting the right help that’s needed, and you need help with either eating or drinking, or need support getting washed and dressed.
Once you get your results, if you qualify, your local council has legal duty to help meet your needs. Following on from the needs assessment, a personal plan will be written which can include support with cleaning and shopping at home, providing access to day care centres to allow carers to have a break, having modifications done to the home to help with mobility or using the bathroom, among others.
Arranging respite care
When you start thinking about arranging respite care, you should have a needs assessment from your local council or you could be assessed by a team of healthcare professionals who can determine if you could qualify for free social care which is arranged and funded by the NHS and is known as NHS Continuing Healthcare.
Day care centres
To arrange a day care centre, you can contact your council, or local charities like Age UK or Contact the Elderly. Day care centres are usually run by councils or charities, but there are some private ones as well. Which also provides a guide on day care centres that includes a checklist of things to consider when you’re arranging day care.
If you need homecare, where a carer will support you with everyday tasks, the most important thing is to have the care needs assessment, as this will give you a written report of your needs at the time, and if your situation changes you can be reassessed. Following on from the assessment from your council, you have the choice of either arranging your own homecare or letting the council provide services. If you’re arranging homecare yourself, it’s important to ensure that the agency is registered with the Care Quality Commission. Find out more information about homecare from Age UK.
If you’ve decided on having a live-in carer to support your loved one, you have the option of using council run services or a private option. In order to qualify for council run services, you will need to have the needs assessment from your local authority. If you arrange a private live-in carer, this could be a family member, or you can choose the carer yourself.
If your loved one has a cognitive disorder, they may still be able to live independently if you arrange specialist care. For example, dementia care can be provided in the home, as people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s can become upset or distressed in an unfamiliar environment, so live-in care can be an ideal solution.
As care home costs can vary across providers, it is a good idea to have a look at a number of homes. You can choose residential, dementia friendly care or nursing homes depending on your loved ones needs.
There are a number of choices when it comes to respite holidays, so you can make the right choice based on what suits you best.
Respite holidays with care provide specialist accommodation combined with care that offer support to your loved one. This allows your loved one to enjoy some time away where they can relax and get a change of scenery and gives you peace of mind that they are being cared for.
Organisations like Revitalise offer respite holidays for older people at one of their three centres providing your loved on with a unique holiday experience but with the respite care included. Altogether Travel provides accessible travel to a range of destinations, providing support throughout all stages of your trip. They also provide a round the clock travelling companion who will be there to support your routine care needs.
Holidaying with your loved one
Some organisations offer holidays where family and carers can come too, they include:
- Tourism for All who are a UK charity offering advice on accessible holidays both in the UK and abroad.
- MindforYou who offer UK holidays for carers and loved ones with dementia and provide an alternative to traditional respite care.
- Dementia Adventure is a charity that allows people living with dementia the chance to have days out and holidays with carers by connecting with nature and their communities.
How much does respite care cost?
Research from the UK Care Guide shows that the average cost for a stay in a care home starts from £800 per week. You can also find out more about paying for short-term or temporary care in a care home from Age UK.
For emergency respite care; a short stay in a care home or getting live-in care can cost as much as £1,500 per week.
Services which require a more intensive personal care plan, such as help with medication or mobility support, will typically cost more than respite care which is about providing companionship or helping with errands. For example, the cost of overnight care can anything from £15 to £30 an hour.
However, you can find out more information about specific services, and how much the UK Care Guide think it should cost when you look for care services, in their guide How much does Home Care Cost in 2021.
Respite care costs at Abbeyfield vary, so it’s best to contact your local Abbeyfield Care Home to find out pricing.
Who pays for respite care?
You can pay for respite care yourself, however you should think about how often you’re likely to need it, as depending on the types of services you’ll need, the price differs.
If you have a needs and carer’s assessment done, your local council can help if you qualify or some charities provide support too, like the Carers Trust or Turn2us. Find out more about charities that support carers on the Carers Trust website.
You may also be able to get a grant; for example, Disability Grants have the details of charities and trusts who can provide support to families and carers looking after a disabled person.