Respite Care (A complete guide)

What is Respite Care?

Respite care is defined as taking a pause from full-time caregiving, typically when a family member is caring for their sick or disabled loved one.

It provides short-term relief for primary caregivers and permits the primary caregiver to care for themselves, in an effort to prevent them from becoming overtired, run down, and burned out.

Managing another person’s health care is an incredible task.

It is imperative that the primary caregiver finds time to manage their own health, including mental health, in order to be able to provide care for others.

There are many respite care choices that are offered; they range from getting a helper to come to the home and sit with the individual for a limited time, to an overnight stay in a residential center, or time spent at a day care center.

Some caregivers experience difficulty letting someone else support their loved one, but it is normal to need a break and necessary to give compassion to oneself, as well as to others.

Who needs respite care?

Individuals with special needs – mentally, emotionally, or physically – may need care around the clock.

Their primary caregivers, typically a parent, sibling, or child, will need time away from their loved one in order to maintain their own needs.

That is where respite care comes in. A specific example could be a child who is diagnosed with a disease that impairs their ability to move around, as well as who might be cognitively delayed.

The parents of that child might need assistance with watching over the child and making sure the child eats properly and plays safely.

Because the child would need constant supervision, the parents would have difficulty completing regular tasks such as running to the grocery store, getting a haircut, and doing laundry.

Obtaining a weekly caregiver to watch over the child so the parents can accomplish those tasks is a huge help. 

Different types of respite care

There are many forms of respite care, but main types are listed below along with their details.

Each provides respite care in a slightly different way and some may be better fits than others.

It is also likely that a family might need more than one different type of respite care at the same time, and most certainly over time as needs of the family change.

1.    Day care centers

Day care centers allow for people to socialize with others in a safe setting.

They tend to facilitate a variety of activities, such as music classes, games, exercise classes, and art activities.

Some even provide hairdressing services, skin care, and supported bathing. Transportation is frequently offered, but there may be a fee depending on the center.

These centers are often run by charities and local councils.

2.    Help at home 

Help at home, also called homecare, is when a secondary caregiver comes to the individual’s home to support them.

Homecare providers can assist the individual with meals, bathing, dressing, medication-giving, and much more.

When choosing a homecare provider, be sure to ask them what exactly that can provide to the individual.

This type of care can be a regular event, such as the same day every week, or can be provided on an as-needed basis.

If an individual needs 24-hour supervision and you are unable to provide it, you can find a live-in caregiver to support the individual fully.

3.    A short stay in a care home

Some residential centers, such as assisted living homes, provide short-term respite care.

A stay in a care home can allow for the primary caregiver to take holidays, business trips, or other overnight events knowing that their loved one is safe and being looked after.

Residential centers also often provide a myriad of activities and amenities for the individuals such as music classes, shopping trips, exercise gyms, religious services, and more.

4.    Getting friends and family to help

Friends and family might be able to relieve the primary caregiver by coming to the home and watching the individual for a short time or by taking the individual out for an afternoon.

Friends and family might even be willing to do this as a favor, rather than for pay. 

5.    Respite holidays

Respite holidays allow individuals with specific needs to go on holidays with the appropriate level of care and with financial assistance.

Most people love holidays and an individual with specific needs is not different.

There are grants and charities out there that can provide aid to a family who needs certain services or financial aid in order to take a holiday.

6.    Sitting services

Some charities and carers’ organisations offer sitting services via volunteers.

This kind of sitting facility is frequently free, or may cost a small fee.

This could also be someone from the community who might be willing to provide short periods of care to an individual for a small fee.

7.    Emergency respite care

In the case of an unexpected circumstance such as an accident or sudden illness, there could be a need for emergency care.

Having a secondary caregiver who would be willing to watch over the individual in the case of an emergency is important to have.

This person might be a relative, a friend or a neighbour who could come in for some short period of time until appropriate preparations are made, or even a registered healthcare provider. 

Respite Care Providers

Depending on the type of respite care, certain providers are trained more-so than others.

For example, care home facilities would likely have providers trained in giving medication, whereas a friend visiting for a short time might not have that training.

These are the types of providers you might come across:

Volunteers – People with little to no training in specific skills to assist individuals with special needs.

Volunteers are excellent for companionship during short time periods when the primary caregiver might need to run a few errands.

Trained staff – Skilled workers in how to physically support individuals with special needs bathe, dress, eat, take medication, etc.

Health Care Professionals – Those who have gone through specialized training to address the individuals medical needs, such as nurses. 

 Paying for respite care

According to the UK care guide, respite care prices are estimated to be at £700-800 per week.

It can be as much as £1,500 a week, for special purposes like emergency respite care, staying in a care home, or having live-in care.

It can also be much lower if only one weekly, or even one monthly, short time period help is needed.

Cost very much depends on the individuals specific needs and the caregivers needs.

Two key methods of receiving help with the costs of respite care are from the local council, or from a charity.

Of course, it can also be paid out of pocket.

Advantages of Respite Care

  • Respite care inside a home can allow the individual the comfortability of staying home, while the primary caregiver takes the time to run errands or accomplish other things around the house.
  • It can reduce the amount of worry that the caregiver has when a certified caregiver watches over the individual.
  • You can have a health care person on call at all times, 24 hours of the day and seven days in a week, which can relieve stress on the primary caregiver.
  • Allows time for the primary caregiver to take care of their own needs.
  • Offers an opportunity to engage with different people and increase socialization.

Obstacles of respite care

  • Unfortunately, respite care can be exclusive particularly when you are thinking of finding a full-time or live-in caregiver.
  • It can be financially difficult to pay for respite care.
  • Primary caregivers might feel guilty for finding alternate care, though it is important for the primary caregiver to fulfill their own needs as well to continue providing care for their loved one.

Support Groups

Sometimes, caregivers find that talking to other caregivers can be beneficial in coping with the stressors they experience.

Finding a support group to attend can help to find others going through similar experiences, which can enable an increase in understanding, feeling validated, and building relationships.

Support groups are often facilitated in religious centers, community centers, or therapy offices.

Typically, they do not even cost a thing – simply there to provide support as best that they can.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I find someone to care for my loved one?

National Health Services has a resource for finding respite care providers.

An assessment will need to be conducted to determine the services required.

Care UK is another resource that provides care homes and day care centers for individuals with specific needs.

How can I find financial assistance to pay for respite care?

If paying for respite care yourself is too much of a burden, there are organisations that can help.

An assessment is needed in order for local councils to fund respite care.

National Health Services can also assist in obtaining the assessment.

Turn2Us is an example of an organisation that can assist with funding for respite care.

The Respite Association is another organisation that provides assistance funding respite care for people who are caregivers for loved ones living on limited incomes. 

Why is respite care important? 

Respite care is important so that the primary caregiver can take time to rest, accomplish personal tasks, reduce stress levels, gain support, and not feel alone.

Oftentimes, caregivers lose themselves when caring full-time for a loved one, so respite care can provide time for the caregiver to give themselves attention and fulfil their own needs.

Who does respite care benefit?

Respite care benefits both the caregiver and the individual.

You might be wondering how it benefits the individual..well, by enabling the caregiver to take a break from caring, they are able to give themselves attention and care that they might be putting off when caring for their loved one.

Without caring for oneself, a caregiver might find themselves overly exhausted, losing patience and getting frustrated with their loved one, and a loss in personal identity.

These are not easy to navigate and impair the relationship between caregiver and loved one.

Thus, the well-being of a caregiver is important in caring for the loved one.

A Welcome Respite: How I Regained My Strength, Patience, and Well-Being WHile Caregiving

The author shares her story of becoming a primary caregiver of her husband when he was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

She offers a compassionate acknowledgement of what it takes to do the right thing for both yourself and your loved one.

How to Get Good Care Services: For yourself or your relatives

This book explains where you can find care services and how to recognise quality care when you find it.

Obtaining care for yourself or family is not a light decision to make.

This book highlights what you can expect in terms of the standard of care and service and what you can do if you don’t get it.

It also covers the main services available and illustrates the process of receiving quality care.


Respite Care, WebMDCarer’s breaks and respite care, National Health Service

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