Who pays for respite care?

Respite care is a vital element of the care process offering temporary relief to carers or family caregivers looking after an older person, so there is a support system in place should they need or want to take a break from their care duties. 

If you are considering organising respite care and wondering how the financial side works, we are breaking down what funding options are available to you, including the possibility of council-funded respite care, NHS-funded respite care, grants, and charity contributions. We will also cover how to pay for respite care if you are self-funding the service, and how to decide which is the best option for you and your loved one. 

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 seniors with personalised, tailored care at home. So whatever questions you have about paying for respite services, we can help.

How do I get a Care Needs Assessment for respite care?

If you are caring for a loved one and want to organise some respite care so you can take a break for any reason (you can learn more about what respite care can be used for in our article: What Is Respite Care?) then arranging a Care Needs Assessment is the first step. This may be done to organise your loved one’s access to regular home care services, but it also covers the need for respite care. 

During a Care Needs Assessment, an assessor will visit your loved one’s home, chat to you both about the daily routine and what may be required, and ask any questions to help determine what respite care services you could benefit from – you can read all about the Care Needs Assessment in detail in our article. 

There are two types of Care Needs Assessment – one for the person requiring care, which looks at the best ways to improve their daily life, and one for carers to determine what they need to do the job well and how to improve their situation. 

During your Care Needs Assessment you will have the chance to discuss your personal situation and what you need, and if regular breaks from caring is something that will benefit you, respite care may be arranged either on an ongoing or ad-hoc basis. The respite services offered to you could be regular home care visits to take over caring duties, a sitting service to take over for a few hours a week, or something else. 

Once the Care Needs Assessment has been completed, you will be assigned a Care Plan which will detail any services that will be used to help you. You can read more in our article: All About The Care Plan

who pays for respite care

Who pays for respite care? 

Understanding who pays for what types of care can be confusing, especially if you have never used a respite care service before. Firstly, it may help to read our article on paying for care in a more general sense, as this can provide lots of useful information: Paying For Care: Who Pays What?

There are several ways you can fund respite care or have it paid for on your behalf, depending on where in the country you live and your individual circumstances. Here are a few of the most common options: 

  1. Funding through your local council 

Your local council will usually only provide respite care after a Care Needs Assessment has been carried out and it has been decided you are eligible for this to be funded. As well as looking at your situation and need, your local council will also conduct a financial assessment to determine how much your loved one can afford to contribute towards their respite care costs. 

If your income and savings fall below a certain threshold, they may receive funding to cover some or all of the respite care costs. For example, if you live in England and Wales, you may need to pay for your own care if your savings and assets are above the means test threshold, which is £23,250 in England, or £24,000 in Wales.

The council will usually decide what type of respite care is required, however you may have the choice of how this money is spent. The respite care options you could have include a replacement carer for days you don’t work, local day care centres your loved one can visit, sitting services to cover short respite breaks, and temporary stays in care homes.

    2. Funding through the NHS

In some cases, respite care can be funded by the National Health Service, however this mostly happens if the respite care required relates to medical needs. NHS Continuing Healthcare is a package of ongoing NHS and social care that is both arranged and funded by the NHS. This can be used for a number of things, and respite care is one of them. 

The NHS Continuing Healthcare Checklist assessment is used to determine if individuals with complex health needs are eligible for ongoing healthcare funding, and it covers a range of areas like mobility, cognition, communication, medication management, and more. The initial assessment is conducted through your local Integrated Care Board (ICB), and if your needs are thought to be mostly health-related, a full assessment will be carried out to ascertain your eligibility and find out if your necessary care costs would be covered. 

You can read more about this in our dedicated article: What Is A Continuing Healthcare Checklist?

     3. Grants and charities 

Sometimes funding through the local council or NHS is not possible, in which case charity programs and grants can be extremely helpful in allowing carers to have respite breaks. There are many charitable and voluntary organisations around the UK offering respite care services, either for free or at a subsidised rate to help with the cost. These organisations typically receive funding themselves through donations and grants to support their respite care programs. If you are curious to find out more about the charities you could apply to for potential funding assistance, here are a few offering respite services:

  • Carers Trust: Carers Trust offers grants to help cover the cost of respite care for carers and their loved ones who need it. You can speak to your local Carers Trust service who will explain how this works, whether or not you qualify, and walk you through the application process. If you do not qualify, it is worth getting in touch with Carers Trust regardless, as they can usually discuss other ways to pay for respite and alternative support options such as helping you apply for benefits. 
  • Turn2Us: Turn2Us is a free online service helping people in need access charitable grants and other financial support. Their website has a helpful Grants Search option where you can answer some questions about your situation and they will come back to you with information about the grants you may be eligible for.
  • Revitalise Support Fund: The Revitalise Support Fund helps carers and people in need of care to cover the cost of respite breaks. To apply for funding, you can complete an application form online to find out if you are eligible for a grant. The Revitalise Support Fund will usually offer a portion of the cost of the break, so you may need to cover the remaining balance. 
  • The Florence Nightingale Aid in Sickness Trust: The Florence Nightingale Aid in Sickness Trust offers grants to help people who are ill, convalescent or disabled, and this includes respite care to give carers a short break from caring duties. You can apply for the grant on their website, and the amount you receive will depend on your situation and the type of break you are looking for. Keep in mind respite breaks must be taken with one of their registered providers, such as Revitalise (see above). 
  • The Respite Association: The Respite Association helps people who are caring for loved ones by offering them an opportunity to recharge their batteries with a respite break. They provide short-term assistance by funding respite care for those who need it, so their regular unpaid carer can take a break. They will help to cover a number of breaks, such as short-term respite so the carer can attend an evening class, to a weekend break or a holiday. You can learn more on their website.
  • The League of the Helping Hand: This charity can provide one-off payments towards carers’ breaks to support carers living on a very low income. It helps to prioritise their wellbeing and self-care through respite care so they can take time off for a number of reasons. You can fill out an application form on their website to see if you are eligible for funding.  
  • The Victoria Convalescent Trust: The Victoria Convalescent Trust is a charity providing grants to fund short breaks for people living in England and Wales who need recuperative care or respite care. The amount you receive will depend on your situation, however the trust can provide funding for a range of breaks. Keep in mind this charity only accepts applications completed by a health professional or other support worker. You can learn more on their website.

       4. Self-funded respite care 

Self-funded respite care may be the only option for those whose financial situation makes them ineligible for any of the above pathways. It may also be the preferred route for those who would like more choice over the respite care services they employ and who would like to organise these services with little wait time. 

Remember, even if you have to (or choose to) self-fund your respite care, you will need to seek, arrange and pay for this yourself, but your local council should still provide support and resources to help you do this – don’t be afraid to reach out to them. 

You will find many home care agencies offering respite care, so you can search for the ones in your local area that may be able to provide the services you need. At Home Instead, we offer flexible, high quality respite care from our highly trained Care Professionals all over the UK, so you can trust that your loved one is being taken care of while you take some much-needed time off. 

       5. Other options 

It is certainly worth speaking to your local council about the options available to you, because even if you are ineligible for any of the above and you are unable to self-fund respite care, there are usually recommendations they can make. 

You may find it helpful to read our article on the possible benefits available to you in case you could be eligible for additional money each month: Financial Benefits For Pensioners: Topping Up Your Income

In addition, there may be free adult day care centres in your area that can provide you with regular days off each week or month. Age UK provides some of these, offering an opportunity for older adults to spend the day with others doing various activities whilst receiving the care they need from trained professionals. 

If you are struggling to figure out a way to fund respite care, you could also consider things like family contributions, crowdfunding options, home equity release, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that cover respite care, or private insurance policies.

Our friendly team at Home Instead can also help talk you through the potential options available to you, so feel free to reach out if you would like more information. 

How do I know which option to pursue?

It can be difficult to know where to begin when it comes to funding respite care, but the options listed above may be relevant to you depending on your financial situation, eligibility criteria, available resources and the type of respite care you are looking for. 

The Care Needs Assessment is always a good place to start, as it can help to determine what is required. From there, you can find out what kind of respite care you could be eligible for, and whether this is the type of respite care you need for your situation – for example, if you need regular days off each month, time off for a big event coming up, or a respite holiday to recharge your batteries. 

Once you know what care is required and what type of respite you need, you can look into the other funding options mentioned above to see what may be available to you. While researching this, you may also find our article helpful: How Much Does Respite Care Cost?

At Home Instead, we understand the importance of carer’s breaks and the need for high quality respite care that can put your mind at ease when you spend time away from an older loved one. We offer flexible respite care options to suit your needs, and our Care Professionals are highly trained to deliver the individualised service that will allow you to take much-needed time away to recharge.

You can reach out to the team at Home Instead to learn more.

who pays for respite care

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.