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.

Respite care comes in many forms. You may benefit from:

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 Getting care services at home.

Day care centres

Day care centres offer the person you care for support and an opportunity to socialise, 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 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. You can also arrange respite care yourself.

Paying for respite care

If the person you care for can get counci support, their council will look at their finances to see if they should pay anything towards it. You can’t be charged for care they receive, but the person you’re caring for might be. Read our factsheet Getting a financial assessment for care at home for more information.

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. Contact your local carers’ service for information. You may be able to get help with costs. 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.

If you live in England or Wales, and are taking a temporary break from caring because of coronavirus, you can continue to receive Carer’s Allowance. Visit our Changes to Services page for more information.

Next steps

To find details of your local council go to gov.uk/find-local-council

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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