Carers are ordinary people doing something extraordinary. Every day they put aside their own lives to help someone unable to manage on their own, whether it’s their parent, partner, child, grandparent or even a close friend or neighbour.
The pressure of caring can take an enormous toll on carers’ physical and mental health but it’s important to remember that caring can be a full-time job. If you go too long without taking a proper break, you may become ill, exhausted or depressed. Time for yourself, an occasional break from your caring responsibilities is a must. This is known as respite care.
Respite care is help and support that enables a carer to take a break from the responsibility of looking after someone else. The schemes provide trained care attendants to sit with the person you care for while you go off and do something else. It’s not uncommon for the person you care for not to want to have someone else look after them but most carers find that once they’ve taken the plunge it doesn’t take long for the person they care for to adjust to ‘new’ people in their lives and to even start looking forward to their visits.
Respite can also come in the form of visits made by the cared for person to day centres and residential care.
Carers can use respite care to take a holiday or a break, or time off if they’re ill themselves. You might take a break for a week, one morning a week, or just occasionally.
Respite care can include:
- Residential or nursing care, where the person you’re looking after goes for a short stay in a residential or nursing home.
- Day-sitting services, where someone comes into your home during the day to care for the person you look after.
- Night-sitting services, where someone comes to your home to care for the person you look after, letting you get a good night’s sleep.
- Daycare, where the person you’re looking after goes to a day centre or takes part in activities away from home.
- Holidays by yourself or with the person you care for.
How can I get it? You may be offered free respite care through the social services department of your local authority.
Respite care could be provided by your local authority after you’ve had a carer’s assessment, or by the local authority of the person you care for after they’ve had a community care assessment. Make sure that both of you are assessed. The local authority will consider what help you need and decide which care services it will provide to help you.
Local authorities charge for some services and they will be able to tell you about this. Some local authorities provide vouchers that can be exchanged for services, others may offer you direct payments to be spent on care services.
If you’re finding it difficult to get respite care, your local carers centre or Crossroads Care branch can give you information about local support. Crossroads Care is a national network that provides trained carer support workers, enabling carers to get a break.
If you want to find local carers’ services or have questions about accessing respite care please contact Crossroads Care Slough for a free informal chat.
Crossroads Care Slough
The Corner House
254a Farnham Road
Slough, Berkshire SL1 4XE
Tel: 01753 525796
9.30 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. Monday to Friday
Or visit www.nhs.uk/carersdirect.