The benefits of in-home respite care

Why at home

The benefits of in-home respite care

Respite care can be a lifeline for those caring for a loved one as it offers the opportunity to hand over the care of an older adult to a professional or team of professionals who can help with their medical and care needs. This could be a temporary stay in a care home or nursing home, a sitting service for casual, ad-hoc care needs, or an adult day care centre to look after a loved one on an occasional basis. 

However, there are a large number of benefits that show in-home respite care to be the most helpful and sought-after form of respite care. Here, we are taking a look at the benefits of at-home respite care for older people and for carers as opposed to other options. 

At Home Instead, our aim is to help people age positively and in place by bringing expert care to their home. For nearly 20 years, we have been providing the highest standard of care, and creating industry-leading training programmes for our Care Professionals that are accredited by nursing and medical professionals. Today, we are the world’s largest global home care network, supporting over 100,000 older adults with personalised, tailored care at home. So whatever questions you have about respite care, we can help. 

What is respite care? 

You can read all about what respite care is in our dedicated guide – What Is Respite Care?but as a brief introduction, respite care is a temporary type of care in which a replacement carer will take over all caring duties for an older person who needs daily help, or someone with a disability or illness. This allows their regular carer or family member to take a break, for example to manage their wellbeing and mental health, handle other life responsibilities, or to go on holiday or attend a special event. There are many benefits to this arrangement, and this is what we will cover below. 

What types of respite care are available? 

There are a few different types of respite care that can be organised, and each has its benefits depending on the needs of the person, the medical conditions the person lives with, the regular carer’s plans, and more. These include:

  • Respite in a care home or nursing home – In some cases, a temporary stay in a care home or nursing home can be arranged in order to provide respite to the person’s regular carers. In this case, all facilities and offerings of the care home are extended to the person during their stay, including companionship and medical care.
  • Respite from a sitting service – Sometimes charities like Age UK will offer sitting services, which is when a trained volunteer will sit with the person for a short period of time (such as a few hours) to allow the regular caregiver to take a break, eat a meal, run errands, or address their own needs. 
  • Respite in a day care centre – Adult day care centres are often run by local councils or charities, and they offer a chance for older adults to attend activities and socialise with others in their community, while having their care needs overseen by a team of staff there. 
  • Respite in the person’s own homeHome care can be arranged through your local council or independently, and a respite carer will take over care duties within the home on a temporary basis. If emergency or last-minute respite care is arranged, the person’s own home is usually the best place for this to happen. 
in home respite care

Why is respite care better at home for older adults? 

There are benefits to all types of respite care. For example, a day care centre could be a welcome break for carers who need one day a week to tend to personal matters, or a temporary care home stay could be beneficial if a regular carer is going on holiday for a set period of time. However, respite care carried out in a person’s own home is particularly helpful for older adults, and the World Health Organization recommends older adults be cared for in their own homes for as long as possible to maintain a strong sense of wellbeing.

What are the benefits of at-home respite care over other types, specifically for carers?

There is a lot of evidence to suggest respite care can benefit everyone involved in the care process, and caregivers will find that at-home respite care offers them the opportunity to: 

  • Manage personal responsibilitiesHandling everyday responsibilities can be tricky when also caring for a loved one, so respite care offers carers the chance to manage their own responsibilities around their care duties to maintain a balance in their home life. Research shows 75% of carers in employment worry about juggling work and care duties, so respite care can help you feel confident that all areas of your life are being well managed. 
  • Improve health and wellbeingAccording to the Mental Health Foundation, 71% of carers have poor physical or mental health, and research suggests 55% of carers report suffering from depression. Regular time off through respite care can help carers focus on their own wellbeing without compromising on the quality of their loved one’s care. This can bring renewed energy, fewer feelings of loneliness, and less emotional exhaustion. 
  • Reduce worries about a loved one’s careLeaving your loved one can feel stressful and lead to feelings of guilt and worry about how they are feeling and how their health is. Building a trusted relationship with a respite carer means you know there is someone who understands the complexities of your loved one’s medical and mental health needs, and can step in to take over. This may not be the case when taking them to an adult day care centre or sitting service. 
  • Avoid carer burnoutCaregiver burnout is an experience that causes carers to go into a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion as a result of their caring duties. Respite care can help to avoid this burnout by offering regular breaks to reduce stress and overwhelm, and intercept burnout before it takes hold and causes problems. Ensuring your loved one receives respite care at home also means you don’t feel the need to visit them in a care home which could interrupt your time off and cause further stress. You can read more about this in our guide: Carer’s Burnout: Knowing You Need Respite
  • Attend events or go on holidayLeaving a loved one who needs care can be a daunting prospect, but if you have an important event to attend or you feel you need to go on a family holiday to clear your head and reset, then respite care can be helpful to reassure you that your loved one will be taken care of even when you are not around. This way, you can focus on your personal life, attend social events without having to leave early, and book holidays without worrying that something bad could happen while you are gone. 
  • Better manage your relationshipWhether you are caring for a parent, a partner, or another relative, your relationship with that person can begin to change as you spend more time caring for them. Respite care offers both a chance to spend time away from your loved one to give you both space if you feel you need it, as well as a chance to spend time with your loved one in a non-care capacity which can help to maintain your familial relationship. 
  • Cover a period of increased demandYou may be able to manage your carer duties around life and work responsibilities, but every so often things will come up that cause issues and interrupt your routine. During big life changes such as a house move or having a baby, or during periods of increased demand such as when a busy work project is in progress, respite care can take over when you need it so you don’t need to worry about your loved one’s care. 
in home respite care

What are the benefits of at-home respite care over other types, specifically for older people? 

While respite care is arguably best for carers, it can also benefit older adults who require care. At-home respite care offers them the opportunity to: 

  • Stay in familiar surroundingsStaying in their own home can help to foster a sense of comfort, familiarity, and security for older adults, and this can be particularly helpful for those living with dementia or another cognitive impairment. One study found those living with dementia at home experienced higher activity levels, quality of life, and felt more socially connected than those living in a care home. 
  • Maintain their independenceRespite care in their own home helps older people to maintain the independence and routines that could be interrupted by a temporary stay in a care home. This can promote a sense of autonomy and dignity, and allow them to stick to their preferred schedules for meals, activities, rest, and more. Research suggests interventions to maintain independent living have the potential to improve health perception and self-efficacy in older adults. 
  • Socialise with new peopleRespite carers can offer companionship, and the opportunity to speak to someone new. This can give them the chance to bring up anything they don’t feel comfortable discussing with family members, and could also lead to trying new activities and having new experiences if it suits their routine. A respite carer can provide additional mental stimulation, widen their social support network, and offer companionship while their regular caregiver is away to keep feelings of loneliness at bay. 
  • Achieve continuity of careIt is important that while a regular caregiver is away for any length of time, an older person’s care does not diminish in frequency or quality. All medications still need to be administered, and all care needs should still be attended to. Respite care can be tailored to meet each individual’s needs and preferences, to ensure the person receives the support and assistance they require while their usual carer is away. 
  • Increase wellbeing and improve quality of lifeRespite care at home means there is no need to move elsewhere to receive care. By continuing to be surrounded by their own belongings, maintaining usual routines, and removing the stress and upheaval of having to go to a new location such as a care home, respite care can protect an older person’s positive wellbeing. Studies show that using home and community care increased the probability of maintaining and improving health by 2.9%, and increased the probability of actively participating in life by 4.1%, which means staying at home could improve their quality of life. 
  • Peace of mindKnowing emergency respite care is available at home if needed can offer safety and security to older individuals who may be nervous when thinking about what might happen if their regular carer is off sick or is suddenly unable to look after them. At-home respite care can offer further peace of mind as it can avoid the financial stress of paying for a temporary stay in a care home or nursing home. 
  • Increased quality of careIf a regular carer reaches the stage of burnout due to lack of breaks, they could begin to unintentionally give care that is not up to the required standard, or could miss key signs and symptoms in the person’s health. Regular breaks and holidays can help carers to reset and recharge, which means when they return to work they can provide the very best care for their loved one. 

There are many benefits to bringing a respite carer in to manage your loved one’s care while you take a break, whether to attend to personal matters, go on a much-needed holiday, or just recharge your batteries so you can continue to offer your relative the care they deserve. If you have any questions about arranging a respite carer you can reach out to the Home Instead team. Our Care Professionals are always on hand to step in and provide high quality care at home whenever it is needed. If you are interested in respite care now, or you would like to discuss it as an option for the future, we would love to help. 

Home Instead is an award-winning home care provider and part of a worldwide organisation devoted to providing the highest-quality relationship-led care for older people in their own homes. Arranging care for yourself or your loved one shouldn’t be stressful, so whatever questions you would like answered, feel free to reach out to the Home Instead team to discuss your needs.