What is respite care?

It’s important for your health and wellbeing to get regular breaks from caring. Respite care is replacement care for the person you look after, so they're supported while you take a break. It can give you a chance to do other things around the house, take part in social or leisure activities or just catch up on sleep.

There are many types of respite care:

Care services at home

There are lots of options available. For example, a care worker can come and provide support to the person you care for in their home. For information on finding a care worker, see our factsheet Arranging home care.

Day care centres

Day care centres offer support and an opportunity to socialise for the person you care for, as well as giving you a break. They’re usually run by local councils or charities.

Short-term residential care

A short-term care home stay for the person you’re caring for may be the best way to meet their needs while you have a break. Some care homes set aside beds for this purpose, but it’s a good idea to plan in advance if you want a temporary care home stay, as space may not be available.

Sitting services

Some charities and carers’ organisations offer sitting services. A sitting service gives you the chance to take a break for a couple of hours while a trained volunteer gives basic support and keeps the person you care for company.

How to get respite care

Start by asking your local council for help. Ask for a carer’s assessment – also called an Adult Carer Support Plan in Scotland – for you and a care needs assessment for the person you care for. This will identify any care and support needs you both have, and works out if you qualify for support from the council.

If the person you care for qualifies for support, their council must prepare a care and support plan for them. This shows how their needs will be met, which could include respite care. The council will then have to arrange respite care so you can take a break.

Another option is to contact carers’ organisations who provide help with respite care. This might include help with arranging regular breaks or grants towards the cost. In Scotland, the Time to Live grant makes it possible for carers to take short breaks. Find out more at Shared Care Scotland.

You can also arrange respite care yourself.

Paying for respite care

If the person you care for can get council support, their council will look at their finances to see if they should pay anything towards it. In England and Wales, the council cannot charge you for any care and support for the person you look after if there is a charge – however they may charge you for a service they provide directly to you. In Scotland, the council must not charge for any support for the carer. See our page about paying for care services at home.

You may be able to get help from charities or other organisations, either with the cost of respite care or with the cost of a break. For example, the Carers Trust offers some grants to carers who need respite. You can search for charitable grants on the Turn2us website.

Taking a holiday

There are many organisations and companies that provide holidays for carers, either with or without the person you care for. If you want to go on holiday without the person you care for, charities like mirus, in Wales, can provide short breaks at a residential respite house.

If you want to go on holiday with the person you care for, charities like Revitalise and MindforYou can help you arrange one. Organisations like Disabled Holidays can provide detailed information about accessible holidays. You may be able to get help with costs. Contact your local carers’ service for information.

Remember to make arrangements well in advance if possible.

Carer’s Allowance when you’re taking a break

Your Carer’s Allowance may be affected if you take a break from caring. If you need advice about Carer’s Allowance or arranging respite care, call our Helpline and arrange to speak to an adviser. Or contact the Carer’s Allowance Unit.

Next steps

To find details of your local council, go to Gov.uk or mygov.scot.

Contact the Carers Trust or Carers UK for more information about local services and the respite options available to you.

For more details of financial support for holidays or respite care, contact Turn2us.

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