Caring for a loved one is challenging and when you are looking after someone else it is easy to neglect your own health and well-being. But for their welfare as much as your own, you need time off.
What is Respite Care?In most jobs, people work set hours Monday to Friday and can relax at weekends and holiday periods. They are not expected to work without a break. It is only reasonable that carers too should enjoy some of these benefits. You need time to yourself, to relieve stress and prevent burnout.
Respite care enables time out for those who care for someone who is frail, ill, or disabled. It can take place in the home of the person being cared for, in a day centre or in a care home. Although there are different types of respite care, all have the same objective; to provide carers a planned temporary break. Respite care is essential for all carers.
Who Arranges the Respite?The first step is usually to approach the local authority to ask for a care assessment of the person you care for – and for you. The Local Authority social worker carrying out the assessments will take into account the needs of the person you care for, and your needs as their carer, and discuss what services can be provided. They will also do a financial assessment to see if the person you care for is in a position to contribute or pay for the services provided for them. If social services assess that respite care is appropriate, it is their responsibility to offer a solution. However, you may prefer to arrange the respite care yourself. Direct payments can be arranged by social services for you to do this.
What Types of Respite Care are Available?Respite care is provided in a variety of ways. Most typically, someone comes to the home to take over the duties you usually provide. Some residential homes are in a position to look after people for a weekend or short period while you take a holiday. In addition, if the person you care for is mobile, a day care centre once or twice a week could provide you with a regular break.
Respite Care at HomeThis has the advantage that the person you care for is reassured by remaining in their own surroundings. However, you will have to spend a lot of time making sure that the arrangements run smoothly while you are away and that you are confident in the quality of care that will be provided. You will need to make a detailed list of what the work involves and leave all important phone numbers to hand. To find someone suitable, a list of registered home care agencies with qualified staff should be available from social services. Or you could employ someone direct through personal recommendation or a local advertisement. In this case, you should ensure that they are registered self-employed and insured to undertake such work.
Respite Care Away From HomeThe social worker making the assessment should be able to give you some idea of suitable residential homes. Make the time to visit several and you will soon become expert at judging the quality of the care on offer. Where possible, talk to residents as well as the staff and ask yourself whether you would be happy to stay there.
The person you care for may be reluctant to leave their home and nervous at being ‘put in a home’. Make clear that this is not a permanent arrangement. Perhaps, it could be described as a holiday for them rather than the chance of a break for you. Many residential homes are in pleasant locations and should offer a break to you both.