Date Revised:

Being a carer can be hard work and you might need to take a break sometimes.

Respite is a short break, anything from a couple of hours to several weeks, away from caring to give you time to recharge your batteries. You may find that it helps you stay stay well and feel better able to cope with caring. 

Different types of breaks for carers

Respite can mean different things to different carers, it could mean:

  • Support workers (care workers) or personal assistants helping with care at home. This is sometimes called replacement care. Or you might want to get more help with other tasks around the home, such as cleaning. See getting more paid help at home.
  • The person you care for having a short stay in a care home (or nursing home). 
  • Getting someone to keep the person you care for company whilst you go out. See sitting and befriending services.
  • Doing something you enjoy.
  • You, or the person you care for, taking part in activities outside the home. 
  • Taking a holiday with or without the person you care for.

How to arrange respite care

  1. You should make sure you ask for a carer’s assessment as it looks at the support you need – this could include regular respite and carer breaks.  Get in touch with your local council if you haven't had an assessment yet.
  2. Find out about paying for respite.
  3. Get in touch with your local carers service as they will be able to help you find out more about taking a break.
  4. Try talking to your family and friends about taking a short break from caring. They may be able to help but they may not be sure how best to help you.  
  5. If you want to buy care at home, from a support worker or personal assistant, see our buying care guide.

Is the strain of caring taking its toll on how you get on with family and friends?

If you struggle to take a break from caring this can have an impact on your relationship with your partner, and with other family and friends.

Top tip: Have a good social support network and make sure that friends and family know how much caring you do. 

They may be able to offer you help. People don’t always know what to do to help so - if you can - be specific about what they can do to support you, whether that’s ringing you regularly to give you a chance to chat, meeting up for coffee once a week, sending you a photo or Facebook message or doing practical tasks like gardening or cooking to help ease the pressure.

The happier you are with your social support network, the more satisfied you are likely to be with your relationship.

For more top tips to help you look after your relationships visit our new relationship guide for carers.

Next update due: June 2017