Taking a break as a carer

Taking a break as a carer
4 min read

6.5 million people in the UK are carers of a partner, child, or friend. They provide an essential service to some of the most vulnerable people in the country and often without reward. This can be a physically and emotionally exhausting role, so it’s important that carers are able to take a break from time to time. This is where respite care can help.

Respite care isn’t only for when you go on holiday or in emergency situations but can also be provided on a regular basis each week. There are also many different forms this may take and it can be adapted to meet your and your loved one’s situation. No two situations are exactly the same and what might work for someone else may not work for you. It’s important to consider the different options to find out what works best for you and your loved one.

Respite care

Respite care is planned or emergency temporary care provided to unpaid carers. It provides short-term breaks that can relieve stress, provide much needed rest and relaxation, and give carers the opportunity to spend time with other friends and family. Respite care can last anywhere from a few hours or days to several weeks depending on your particular needs, be it dementia care, or respite for elderly carers. It can also be given informally by family, friends or neighbours, or by formal respite services.

Respite care can also be provided in emergency situations if you become ill or go into hospital. It is worthwhile to identify a respite care provider in advance who you can contact if the need arises.

Short-term residential care

During short-term residential care, your loved one temporarily moves into residential care on a temporary basis, meaning that all their needs are catered for in one place. It’s important to do necessary research on potential homes to ensure that they have adequate facilities and any specialist care that your loved one may need. Booking ahead can also ensure space is available during busy holiday times.

Temporary home care: part-time and live-in care

Home care is often the preferred care option during periods of respite as it can be less disruptive than residential care. A temporary caregiver will come to your loved one’s home and learn their routine, allowing your loved one to remain in familiar surroundings with their local support system. This may also better suit your loved one’s needs, especially if they are living with a condition, such as dementia, and temporarily moving them from their home may be too disruptive and distressing.

Day care can be provided on a part-time basis, a few hours each day, to support your loved one with daily tasks, such as bathing, dressing, and meals. This can also be provided on a regular part-time basis for a few hours each week. Alternatively, you may opt for live-in care where a carer will live with your loved one in their home.

Support from friends and family

If possible, one of the best sources of help can be from your wider support network – there’s no shame in asking those around us for help.

This may be as simple as a friend or family member relieving you of your responsibilities for a few hours each week whilst you take some time for yourself or it could be someone stepping in and looking after your loved one whilst you take a short break or holiday. Sharing the responsibilities of care with those you love can not only improve your own quality of life but also improve the relationships you share with your loved one you care for and the other people in your support network.

Day care centres

We often have to balance our responsibilities as a family carer with other responsibilities such as work and child care. For many carers this means that they are not available to support their loved one during the day time. If this is the case, adult or elder day-centres can ensure that your loved one is in a safe environment whilst you’re not available during the day to look after them.

Adult day centres 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. This means that your loved is surrounded by other people of similar ages and in similar situations who may share similar interests. Adult day centres can also provide meals and general personal care for your loved one during their visit.

Organising respite care

Organising care can be a daunting task:

  • Where do you look?

  • How do you arrange it?

  • How do I trust the carer?

It’s important to talk openly about the respite care options with your loved one and the other people involved in their care. Be sure to identify the needs of your loved one, such as whether they need help with mobility, transportation, eating, medications, and even things like mental stimulation. You should also ensure that their wishes are respected and that they receive dignified care that they want.

You then need to decide for how long respite care is needed and how often you may want it. Recognising your own feelings and discussing family involvement can further help make your role as a carer more balanced, whether or not you are in a period of respite.

SuperCarers can help you find respite home care for your loved one. We connect families with trusted, experienced and vetted carers in their area. We focus on finding excellent carers, making personalised matches, and providing you with the tools to make the management of care easier. Call us on 020 8629 1030 to speak to one of our care advisors.

You may also be interested in our blog about health and wellbeing tips for carers.