Caring for a loved one is a commitment which can take up a lot of physical and emotional energy. As a family caregiver, you should consider taking some time for yourself every now and then in order to recharge and to carry out your care tasks in the best possible way. Taking a break from your care responsibilities will enable you to keep providing the support your loved one needs, while also looking after your own health.
Arranging respite care will help you to do just that. You’ll be able to recharge by taking some time off from your care duties, while making sure your loved one is well looked after during your absence.
However, it can be a worrying prospect to leave behind someone who depends on you whilst you take time off. There are many ways you can make sure they are well cared for in your absence. You may:
Whatever your solution, in-home respite care can ensure that your loved one’s care and support needs are still met if you take a break.
Every situation is different, so it’s important to consider what will work best for your loved one, and discuss it with both them and the other people involved in their care.
So, keep reading to find out more about respite care and what arrangement might work best for you.
Respite care is planned or emergency temporary care provided to allow an unpaid family caregiver to take a break from their duties, safe in the knowledge that their relative is well looked after.
These short-term breaks allow family caregivers to relieve stress, take care of themselves, and spend time with other friends and family.
The stresses associated with long-term caring can have serious impacts on a person’s health. 72% of the caregivers who responded to Carers UK’s State of Caring Survey said they had suffered mental ill health as a result of caring.
Additionally, over half of all caregivers surveyed have suffered depression as a result of their caring role, and more than three-quarters have felt more anxious and stressed as a direct result of their caring role.
Although many families find immense satisfaction in providing care to their loved ones, the physical, emotional and financial challenges for family caregivers can be overwhelming without some support.
Yet, leaving your loved one when you need some time off can be a difficult prospect. Respite care can ensure that all of your loved one’s care needs are met, providing you with a much needed break, which can be immensely beneficial to your mental and physical health and wellbeing.
A short break, be it for a few hours a week or for a holiday, can allow you to recharge and ensure that you’re at your best when caring for your loved one. Respite care can last anywhere from a few hours or days to several weeks depending on your particular needs.
Ideally, respite should be used before you become too worn out or overwhelmed by your responsibilities. Simply planning respite in advance can be a huge relief.
Respite care isn’t only available for when you need to take some time off. Emergency care can also be provided in urgent situations, for example if you become ill or have to go into hospital.
If you think emergency care may be needed at some point, it would be worthwhile to look into respite care options in advance, in order to be prepared in case the need arises.
Respite care is generally available in three main formats:
Short-term residential care allows your loved one to move into residential care home on a temporary basis, meaning that all their needs are catered for in one place. When looking for residential care, it’s important to do the necessary research to ensure the home has adequate facilities and specialism to meet your loved one’s needs. Booking ahead can also ensure space is available during busy holiday times.
You may consider adult or elder day-centres if you need to ensure that your loved one is in a safe environment whilst you run errands or are not available during the day to look after them. They have the added benefit of providing stimulation, such as through planned activities or day trips, to help prevent your loved one becoming bored or distressed in your absence.
Live-in or hourly respite care at home can be less disruptive than residential care. The temporary caregiver will come to your loved one’s home and learn their routine, allowing your relative to remain in familiar surroundings with their local support system. It may also be that, due to your loved one’s condition, such as if they are living with dementia, asking them to be in a different place for a short period of time is not an option. Respite home care can also be provided for a few hours, on a temporary or regular basis, to give you a chance to catch up with friends or family, run errands, or take some rest.
Although residential care can ensure that all of your loved one’s needs are met in one place, home care is usually less disruptive: routines can continue and your loved one can stay in familiar and reassuring surroundings. Moreover, home care avoids or delays out-of-home placements, and can reduce the likelihood of errors being made during your absence.
Respite care for the elderly can fulfil all the roles of a permanent part-time or live-in Care Professional. Care can also be provided to meet a range of specialist needs, such as dementia care, Alzheimer’s care, health care or general personal care.
A good respite Care Professional can also provide the necessary stimulation, recreation, and companionship that you would normally provide, as well as meeting all of the personal care needs your loved one may have.
Planning respite care in advance can ensure that all of your loved one’s needs are met, and that you give yourself the time to arrange the care properly.
Organising care can be a daunting task. Where do you look? How do you arrange it? How can you find a trusted Care Professional?
If you decide to organise care through an agency, make sure that it is one you feel comfortable with, and that they provide thorough background checks for all their caregivers. It’s equally important to then ensure that any caregiver is a good match for your loved one.
You may also consider using an independent caregiver. If this is the case, it is wise to meet and interview the caregiver beforehand. To ensure that all of your loved one’s needs are met, be specific about the tasks, skills, and schedules involved, and the specific wishes of your loved one. Don’t forget to also carry out background checks on any independent caregivers and request several work and personal references. Finally, discuss compensation and payment schedules ahead of time, but do not pay for services in advance.
The new Care Act states that unpaid caregivers have the right to further support from local authorities with respite care costs. As such, respite care may be provided by your local authority. This will be determined by a Carer’s Assessment. Every unpaid family caregiver, irrespective of financial circumstance, is entitled to a carer’s assessment.
If you’re eligible for financial support, you can ask for a direct payment to hire a Care Professional. Alternatively, you can use the direct payment to pay for a supported holiday for both you and the person you’re caring for.
Here are some other sources of information on the matter: