Time away from caring
First Steps to getting a break from caring
Help from friends or family
Give yourself permission to have time for yourself
Are there any day centres locally that the person I care for could attend?
What about lunch clubs or activity groups?
Brining someone into the home, to give you a break
Do care homes take people for short stays and respite?
I would like to go on holiday with the person I care for
Is there any help to pay for taking a break from caring?
Caring for someone can be hard and getting time off isn’t easy. Most carers need a break from time to time. It’s really important that you try to build in some time off for yourself, however hard that may seem.
You may want a short break of just an hour or two, a whole day or longer. What kind of break and for how long will depend on your circumstances and the type of care and support that the person you care for requires. Respite care can mean lots of different things and can mean the person you care for having a short stay in a care home, attending a day service or receiving alternative care at home.
A good place to start is by having a Carer’s Assessment. Talking through with someone else will help you with a plan of action. They can help you explore what type of break would suit you best and what options are open to you. If the assessment highlights a clear need for a short break to sustain you in your caring role, the council can offer support in the form of a payment towards the cost of the break.
In order for you to have that break, the person you care for might need someone else to help with their care and support. See practical support for options that are available.
Sometimes relatives or friends can help out. It can be hard to ask, but often friends and family are happy to help. They may want to offer support but are not sure what is needed. Consider calling a family conference or writing a letter to loved ones to express how you feel and what you need. You might say something like, ‘I think it would do me good to go back to my weekly art class and to have a day off occasionally. I thought I would ask the family if they can help in any way before I approach local services to see what they offer’.
It may be the case that you are able to leave the person you care for, but you feel guilty about taking some time for yourself. Remember, you have needs too. If you are able to do something that you enjoy, it will ‘recharge your batteries’ and help sustain you in your caring role. Ultimately, both of you will benefit.
It may be possible to arrange a place at a day centre or club. Local councils and many charities or social enterprises run specialist day services. You may want to accompany the person the first time they go and make sure they feel settled.
South Gloucestershire council runs day centres through the Promoting Opportunities service.
Age UK South Gloucestershire operate activity clubs in the South Gloucestershire area.
In Bristol there is information on Bristol City Councils website.
Age UK Bristol run a day centre in Withywood.
Humphry Repton House is a specialist care home which offers a day service for people with dementia.
Milestones Trust have day opportunities for people of all ages with varying support needs.
Tynedale Circle day centre runs weekly and is located on Whiteladies Road for people with some memory loss and also has a carers group.
St Monica’s Trust provides a day service available to people with dementia.
Ablecare offers lunch clubs and respite care to people in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. The lunch clubs take place at their care homes but are open to non-residents.
Brunelcare has a day centre for people with mild to moderate dementia which is located in Lawrence Weston.
Dhek Bhal offers day services and support for carers to the South Asian community living in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
Bingham day centre is for people with learning disabilities.
The Dementia Wellbeing service website lists local day services.
An increasing number of activities are run locally by charities, churches and community groups. The Wellaware database is a good place to have a look for clubs and activity groups.
Interest groups are wide-ranging from music to gardening. Some clubs offer transport and some cater specifically for certain groups of people, e.g. older people or those with mental health needs.
You could consider buying in care at home from an agency. This could be on a one–off basis or it could be regular support coming into the home. Alternatively, you could employ a personal assistant to provide support on an on-going basis. This can give more control and choice. See practical support.
Care at home can also be arranged through the local authority. Assuming the person needing care and support agrees, they would have an assessment of need and a financial assessment to determine whether they meet the threshold for help from the council and how much they will have to contribute to the cost. The local authority may then put the service in place or contribute to a budget for you and the person you care for to make your own arrangements.
Carers Trust website has some useful information about things to think about when buying care in.
You may need to phone quite a few agencies because their services are in demand. Care agencies find it easier to accommodate more substantial packages of care. If you are initially looking for something short-term to see how it goes, but think you may need more help in the future, explain this to the agency.
Some care homes will accept short term residents for a few days or a week. Before arranging this, do some research and visit a few homes. You will want to meet some of the staff to feel secure in the knowledge that a person will be well looked after.
In Bristol and South Gloucestershire carers report that they experience the following difficulties in trying to arrange respite:
- not all homes have bookable respite beds – it depends on vacancies at the time
- bookable respite beds are very limited
- it can be hard to book anything in advance
- it is difficult to find anything at very short notice unless it is an emergency
- many homes will not accept a booking for less than a whole week
There are a number of guides to choosing a right care home:
South Gloucestershire council have produced a factsheet about choosing a care home, which lists local care homes.
Bristol City Council has information about care homes on their website including a leaflet about things to think about when choosing a care home.
To look for a care home, with information on charges and current vacancies, go to the care home website.
The Care Quality Commission website can be used to check if the homes you are looking at have been inspected and how they are rated.
There are ways of taking a holiday with the person you care for, where you still feel as though you have had a break. It is important to choose the right holiday venue, enlist extra help if you can and only do chores that are absolutely necessary. You don’t have to cook every night!
See Holidays for more information.
If you have a Carer’s Assessment you can discuss getting a break from caring and one outcome may be a payment to enable you to take a break.
There are trusts and charities that may be able to help. Some are charities that help carers in particular because they recognise the importance and benefit to carers in having some time away from caring. You can search for grants on the Turn 2 Us grants search.
If, in order for you to take a break, the person you care for needs alternative care that you cannot arrange privately, the local council can arrange respite care. However, there will be a charge for this. The amount is determined following a means test of the person receiving the respite care. See section on paying for care.
Carers Trust has some information on their website about paying for respite care.
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NHS Choices has a good section on respite care and information on trusts and funds that you can apply to.