Caring for someone can be exhausting, both mentally and physically, so it’s not surprising that most carers enjoy the occasional short break from their caring role.
A short break will enable you to have time to yourself while knowing that the person you care for is being well looked after by someone else. This break might be for a few hours a week, a few days a month, or even longer. The idea is to give you a chance to relax and have a well-earned break from your caring duties.
Short breaks are sometimes referred to as ‘respite care’.
If you don’t have family or friends who can help out, the first step is getting support – and a short break – is to ask your local council for a carer’s needs assessment. The type of support you receive will also depend on what is available in your area.
Types of short break
There are different types of short breaks. The length and frequency of your short breaks will vary depending on your support needs and what you want to do in the available time.
You may prefer short breaks on a regular basis, perhaps for a few hours at a time or overnight once a week; or, you might want a fortnight’s break from your caring role to go on holiday. Not everyone needs the same level of support.
Support for the cared-for person
The idea of a short break is for you to relax in the knowledge that the person you care for is being well-looked after.
This care provision will vary depending on the needs of the cared-for person and the duration of your short break. It may include:
- someone caring for or ‘sitting with’ the person in their own home, including overnight
- supporting the person to take part in day activities or going to a regular lunch club
- a temporary stay in residential care or an extra care scheme (or hospice if appropriate)
- a temporary stay in an adult placement scheme
- the cared-for person going on holiday where their care needs are supported
Short breaks for the carers of disabled children
If you are caring for a disabled child, you have the legal right to a break from caring under the Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children (Wales) Regulations.
Local councils must now provide parents of disabled children with a short breaks services statement informing them what kind of short breaks are available, e.g. home sitting, respite by foster carers, etc.
Breaks for young carers
Young carers also need breaks from their caring commitments. There are young carers’ projects across Wales which organise leisure activities, trips and even holidays for young carers.
Direct payments for short breaks
As a carer, you have the right to receive direct payments for your own support needs. You can then use this money to make your own arrangements for a short break from your caring role when you need it.
Carers UK has lots of information about short breaks for carers.
Paying for a short break
How you pay for a short break depends on the type of respite the cared-for person needs and their personal financial situation. If there is a charge, then the local council must follow financial guidelines about how the cared-for person’s income and capital is taken into account.