How respite care is making a difference for unpaid carers

At Carers Trust we know that being able to take a break has always been important for unpaid carers. For many unpaid carers, in fact, it is a lifeline. And without support to pay for that all important break from their caring role, many unpaid carers couldn’t go on caring.

Coronavirus has meant that unpaid carers are now spending more hours than ever before looking after family members  and friends. This is why we have set up Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal Respite Fund for Carers. The fund will mean we are able to support thousands more unpaid carers over the next three years.

The stories below show how the fund will make a real difference by paying for that much-needed break so unpaid carers can have that all-important time to themselves.

A change of scene for Andrea

Older woman


Andrea, 69, cares for her 29-year-old daughter who has cerebellar ataxia, a condition affecting co-ordination, balance and speech, as well as a heart condition and epilepsy. Her daughter requires care and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Caring has also affected Andrea’s own health. She does not feel in control of her own life, is never able to do things she would like to do, and worries about money and the future.

Recently, Andrea’s daughter had a benefit assessment and was asked to pay towards the cost of her replacement care for the first time. This has had a significant financial impact, leaving no money to spare.

We were glad to help and Andrea and her daughter are looking forward to a caravan holiday thanks to a Carers Trust grant of £300 towards the cost of a much-needed break.

“This will make a big difference to me. I have been a carer for many years and owing to my daughter’s needs, I never thought I would be able to go on holiday as I just can’t leave her alone at home even if she has 24/7 support from care workers.

"If we are able to go on holiday together then I will be able to take a break and enjoy a change of scene. My daughter’s care assistant will be there to support my daughter for at least seven hours a day so I will be able to enjoy the camp facilities and have some quality time to myself. This will be amazing!”

Enjoying exercise during lockdown

Woman on exercise bike


Melanie started caring for her ex-husband 12 years ago.  He has multiple health conditions and is not able to look after himself, so Melanie started doing everything for him.  She is his voice, taking him to health appointments, making sure he is washed, safe, and well-fed. 

The heavy responsibility started taking its toll on Melanie who gradually became overwhelmed by the pressures of her caring role and the impossibility of taking a break.  A couple of years ago Melanie reached crisis point, and realised she needed help.

She got in touch with her local carers centre and thanks to a Carers Trust grant, they helped Melanie get the respite she needed.  With their support, Melanie was able to find some all-important time for herself, getting involved in educational activities at the centre, which led to online courses in mental health and counselling. She also started to go to the gym thanks to the respite support she received each week from her carers centre.

When Melanie's dance classes were stopped during lockdown, this vital respite was closed to her and it began to affect her mental health. But her carers centre encouraged her to apply for a small Carers Trust grant which she used to buy an exercise bike. And although Melanie was initially reluctant to consider the grant, she applied and is now glad she did.

“I missed the gym, interacting with other people and dancing for one hour was the only respite support I could get.  Exercise makes me feel about a hundred times better. The exercise bike I got with the grant helped my mental health during the last lockdown as well as making me feel like I had achieved something during the day. 

“I can’t begin to tell you the difference the Carers Trust carers centre made by helping me access respite support.  When I started to go there I was Melanie once more, it was like finding myself again.  One thing I’ve learnt is to be kind to yourself and you can be kind to others.  I find if I have  a respite break it makes me a better carer.”

All library photos posed by models. All photos and identities of unpaid carers have been changed in the interest of privacy. Images courtesy of and Petrovik