What is Respite Care?

Respite care can be given to a carer

Respite care. Carers need a break.

Respite care is any sort of outside help or support a carer receives that enables the person to take a break from the caring responsibility of somebody who needs the care.

If you are caring for somebody either part-time or full-time, you are going to need respite care at some stage. But what is respite care and why do you need it?

We take a look at respite care and how a caregiver might use this service.

Looking after a person with dementia can be very demanding role for the carer. Who in the majority of cases are family member such as a partner, husband, wife or sibling such as a son or daughter.

This is usually a voluntary agreement done for love and not money because without the care, the individual would need to go into a residential care unit or face major issues over their well-being if there was no permanent carer.

If you are caring for someone with dementia you know it can be very difficult and like any job, you sometimes need to have a rest from the daily routine of caring for the person.

At first you may feel guilty or irresponsible about taking a break from the person you are caring for, especially if it involves personal care like washing and dressing. But it is important to remember that you need to take a break because it is not healthy to work constantly without a break.

Looking after someone with dementia is a 7 days a week job, you don’t get weekends off or holiday periods 3 or 4 times a year so if you go too long without taking a proper break you put yourself and the sufferer, at risk of becoming unwell or depressed. This in turn will make your life and the person you are caring for more unhappy and difficult.

Respite care  can come in many forms. Taking a person you look after to a day centre for a few hours a week or getting somebody else to care for the person at home whilst you go off for the day can be classed as respite care. You may get outside help from your local council to cope with the cooking, cleaning or washing and bathing needs of the person with dementia.

Different types of respite care that are available


This is where respite care needs to be provided at very short notice. The usual person who provides the care may be suffering from an illness or has had an unexpected situation that they may have to deal with immediately, in this case you would need ’emergency’ respite care.


This is when the person that is being cared for goes away to live and be cared for by someone else for a period of time. Residential care is great for full-time carers who wish to go on holiday and know that the person with dementia is receiving specialist care in a residential unit.

Day centre

This where the person that is cared for can spend some time during the day. Some respite centre’s specialise in dementia care and provide a host of services tailored to the person’s ability.
Many centre’s have places for early onset dementia and also provide dementia cafe for you to get advice on what services and help the day centre can provide.
Taking a person with dementia to a day centre will allow the carer to have a few spare hours of their own because the centre provides the care workers within the centre to look after the person.

Domiciliary care

This is where outside support is provided in the home of the person with dementia to help out with some of the carer’s daily responsibilities. This could be cooking, cleaning, washing or any other task that is usually provided by the carer. Domiciliary care usually lasts up to a few hours in a day.

If you are a carer and are caring for a person with dementia try to take a break. There are many help organisations and groups that can help with respite care. They are professionally trained to help with situations like yours. There is no shame in asking for a few hours help a week to help you cope with the very demanding role a carer plays when looking after a person with dementia.

You can find a lot more information on getting respite care in your local community on the NHS website.

You can find the NHS website here

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