Paying for respite

Respite is a short break from caring. How you pay for respite depends on the type of respite you need and your personal circumstances. You may be able to get help from your local council, charities or benevolent funds, or you may need to pay for care yourself.

What is respite?

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. 

If the person you care for is permanently moving into a care home see paying for a care home.

Start by having a carer’s assessment

Ask your local council for a carer’s assessment (or an Adult Carer Support Plan if you live in Scotland). This is a chance to discuss your needs with your local council so they can decide how best to support you. 

If you need support then you will agree a support plan with the local council. This care plan may include respite to give you a break from caring. For example, you may decide to use a sitting service so that you get a couple of hours to go out. 

You should still have a carer’s assessment even if you don’t think you will be able to get any help from the local council to pay for respite. They should still be able to offer you support to ensure your needs are being met.

The person you care for should also have a separate needs assessment from their local council to see what support they need. Again if they qualify for support they will agree a support/care plan.

Local council funding

Your local council must carry out a financial assessment to see what you can afford to pay. This only happens after you have had a carer’s assessment to check you need support.

The person you care for will also need to have a financial assessment. This will only happen after they have had a needs assessment to check they need support.

If you qualify for support you can ask the local council to arrange this for you,  or you may be able decide how the money to pay for your support plan is spent:

Personal budgets, direct payment and self-directed support

You may be able decide how the money to pay for your support plan is spent. This might be in the form of a direct payment (England, Northern Ireland and Wales), Personal budget (England only) or self-directed payment (Scotland).

Find out more about personal budgets, direct payments and self-directed support.

As a carer you will not be charged for any services provided to the person you care for.

Carers Trust grants

You may be able to get a grant from Carers Trust if you need respite. 

You will need to apply through your local Carers Trust service. They can explain everything you need to know about who qualifies and help you apply. They may also be able to let you know about other ways to pay for respite.

Your local carer service will also be able to support you in other ways, for example by helping you apply for benefits or putting you in touch with other carers.

Funding from other charities and benevolent funds

If you, or the person you care for, need extra help to pay for respite there are grants, funds, and charities that may be able to help. Many of these can help with a lot more than just respite care. Find out about:

Benevolent funds

Charities that support carers

You can search for grants using the Turn2Us grants search. 

You may also be able to get help with the cost of going on holiday – either alone or with the person you care for.

Find out more about holidays

Paying for your own respite

If you don’t qualify for help from your local council you may have to pay for respite care yourself. This can be called self funding. The person you care for may also have to pay for their own care. 

Remember you should still have a carer’s assessment even if you will have to pay for your own respite care. 

Paying for respite care can be expensive so it would be worth seeing if there is any other support available. Contact your local carers service.

Respite if you are caring for a child

Rules about paying for respite care if you are caring for a child are different. Get in touch with Contact a Family for more information.

Where to find out more

  • There is more information on paying for carers' breaks and respite care on the NHS website. 
  • See our guide Making Respite Real. Aimed at professionals, carers and service users, it promotes the value of respite, the need for it to be planned for and gives information on how to access respite.
  • In Scotland, you can get in touch with Shared Care Scotland. Shared Care Scotland is a charity that helps carers and their families to find out about respite breaks, and to access funding for breaks if needed.