Respite for Dementia Carers

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Dementia Caregivers Guide

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In this guide, we take a look at what respite for dementia carers is, the replacement care options available to you, useful resources to find out more, and how to arrange respite care for the person you care for.


What Is Respite Care?

Respite care simply means taking a break from your role as a carer – the person you care for is, instead, looked after by someone else while you are away. You don’t have to be going away for respite care, either; sometimes, we all just need a break.

Respite Care Options

There are a number of options available to you when looking for respite care. These could include:

Why Might Someone Need Respite Care?

Being a carer is hard. We all need a break sometimes – even if that’s just a bit of time to yourself to run some errands and look after your own wellbeing.

Respite care comes into play in many different ways. You could be going on holiday and need to have support in place for the days that you are away. You might need a day to get your weekly errands done, such as shopping, sorting bills, cleaning etc. Or, you might just want to take a few hours to go and get a haircut, maybe do some exercise, and look after yourself.

Most importantly, it’s important to know that there are respite care services available to you for any reason and any length of time. If you don’t have any other family members or friends to help share the role as carer with you from time to time, using a local service can be a great option to avoid getting run down and burnt out.

Where To Find Respite Care In The UK

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best resources providing a full breakdown of what respite is, how to get it, and who you need to contact to arrange care cover.

NHS Social Care and Support Guide

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This guide provides a full breakdown on what you need to do to get respite care, the different types of care available, and your options for getting help with the costs.

Alzheimer’s Society Replacement Care Guide

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Alzheimer’s Society has a detailed guide on replacement care (as well as separate guides for respite care in Wales and Northern Ireland).

They also have a helpful guide fully covering how replacement care can be funded.

How to Arrange Respite Care

Respite care may be offered following an assessment of the person with dementia, or following a carer’s assessment that may establish your own needs. Joint assessments are ideal because then your individual circumstances can be established together, ensuring everyone involved gets the best support available.

Your local authority will be in charge of providing information on what respite care may be available to you nearby. You could also contact your GP and ask to be referred to the relevant team that will support you in arranging replacement care.

Funding for dementia respite care

You may be concerned about paying for dementia respite care. If the person you provide dementia care for doesn’t usually receive professional care, you may be new to the world of care costs. 

Fortunately, there are a few options available to you. Costs and funding options may vary, depending on your income and assets, as well as what sort of respite you need. 

Dementia respite care from volunteers

The first option is completely free! If your loved one lives at home and you don’t need a long time away from them, could you ask a family member, neighbour or friend to help? If you just need a few hours to go shopping every week, you might find that your local support system is happy to help.

Free sitting services for people with dementia

If you don’t have local friends or family to call on, you may be able to access a sitting or befriending service. A trained volunteer will visit your loved one and spend time with them. 

These are usually arranged by charities, and will generally be free or available for a low cost. Age UK provides a befriending service, or your local authority may be able to signpost you towards sitting services. 

Local council funding for dementia respite care

If you’ve had a carer’s assessment from your local council, you can discuss your needs with someone from your local authority. You can then agree on a support plan. This may include respite care for your loved one, so that you can have a break. 

If the local authority agrees that you need respite care, they’ll carry out a financial assessment – both for you and your loved one. 

Depending on the results of the financial assessment, the local authority may provide funding for dementia respite care for your loved one. This may be in the form of direct payments, which could be used for:

Grants for dementia respite care

Some charities and other organisations offer grants for people who need respite care for dementia. These grants may be available from:

Turn2Us is a charity that specialises in finding grants for people. They have a grants search feature that may be able to help you. 

Subsidised respite holidays

Some organisations provide holidays for disabled people – either with or without their carers. They may subsidise the cost, so they’re not as expensive. 

Self-funded dementia respite care

You or your loved one may be able to pay for dementia respite care out of income or savings. If you don’t quality for grants or help from the local authority, this may be your only option. 

Even if you believe that you’ll need to pay for dementia respite care yourself, it’s still worth having a carer’s assessment from your local authority. They may be able to signpost you towards organisations that can provide respite care, even if they can’t contribute towards the costs.