Unlike most of the types of care discussed and offered by care homes and domiciliary care providers respite care is for the person doing the caring as opposed to the person who needs the care.
Caring for someone, no matter how much you love them, is a demanding job and carers need a break from their responsibilities on occasion to recharge themselves.
Respite care serves many functions such as rest and relaxation for a carer - remember as a carer you are usually helping the person on a daily basis and as such it is extremely difficult to get away on holiday as you would with a regular job.
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That is where respite care services come into play. They allow you, the carer, to get the rest you need to continue to perform at your best. Respite care is available for varying lengths of time, literally from a couple of hours break so you can take care of other important things, all the way to several weeks for a long holiday or other family obligations that you need to attend to.
Depending on the amount of time that you need, and the needs of the person you are caring for, there are many different options available to you for respite care. Here are some of the options that you might want to explore:
- Day centres or other places which offer activities for seniors or the young and middle aged who need extra support. These are best utilised when the person being cared for mostly needs some social interaction in their day that they would otherwise be missing with their primary caregiver away.
- Domiciliary care, also known as home care or care in the home is when you hire a person to come into the house each day and essentially take over your caring duties for the time you are away. This is most suitable when the person being cared for doesn’t have medical needs which are too severe that they would require a nurse. This replacement care option is usually the easiest transition for the person being cared for as well as they get to remain in the environment they are used to- they just need some time to get used to a new face.
- A short stay in either a residential care home or a nursing home. This is the best option when the needs of the person being cared for are more complex. Care homes and nursing homes offer 24 hr care and assistance to their residents. The difference between the two types of homes is simply that a nursing home will have nurses on duty to administer medication and keep an eye on the medical needs of the residents. Many care homes and nursing homes offer respite care services, but as beds go quickly you will need to ring around to see which homes in your area have availability.
Now, how to pay for the respite care you need
I’m sure you’re thinking now that all of this sounds great and you could really use a break but how to possibly pay for it all? Of course if you are lucky enough to have the money you can of course contact domiciliary care services and pay for what care is needed yourself. However, if you are not financially able to fund a break yourself there are happily options and support available from your local council and various charities.
First of all, if you want support from the council for respite care you will need to have an assessment of your needs done by the council. This is available to anyone 16 years of age or older who provides regular and substantial amount of care for someone aged 18 or over. To arrange an assessment you will need to contact your local council. This is different than the assessment given to the person you are caring for; this is for you!
The best way to get a result when contacting the council is to write or email the social services department responsible for the disabled person.
For example if the person you are caring for lives on Oxford you would then write to:
Carers Oxfordshire, PO Box 780, Oxford OX1 9GX
To find your councils correct address try typing this into Google:
where to write to get a carers assessment in [name of your location ie Oxford]
Additionally here is a downloadable pamphlet courtesy of the Carers UK charity explaining in detail how to go about getting help and arranging an assessment. Remember you DO NOT have to wait to be offered an assessment. If you need a break you are entitled to request an assessment. This applies even if the person you are caring for has been deemed ineligible for help from the council.
Here is an example of the letter or email you can send to your council for help, make sure to add your own information to the letter including the contact details so the council can reply to you:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to request a carer’s assessment.
I have been caring for [name and address of the person you care for] since [date]
I will be caring for [name of the person you will soon start caring for] from [date].
S/he is my [mother/husband/son/friend etc.].
[Name of person you care for] needs help because [outline the disabilities the person you care for has, eg she is 90, has arthritis and is becoming frail]. The main things s/he needs help with are [eg having a bath, dressing etc.].
The main difficulties I have are [list the things you need, eg a break from caring]. Please contact me at the above address/on the above phone number.
[NB. State how you prefer to be contacted and, if by phone, if there is a good time to contact you] to let me know when you will be able to carry out my assessment.
What happens after your care assessment?
The usual result following your assessment will be direct payments to you from the government which will allow you to do various things such as:
• Pay for driving lessons
• Hire help with housework and gardening
• Buy a mobile phone
• Pay for a short holiday for the carer to enable them to have time to themselves.
• Pay for a computer for a carer who could not access computer services from a local library because he felt unable to leave the person he was looking after
• repairs and insurance costs for a car, where transport was crucial to the caring role
• gym membership
• leisure classes to relieve stress.
For more information on direct payments please see the Carers UK website.
Additionally, there is a carers grant which is a flexible grant of up to £350 which is available to people doing 10hrs a week or more in their caring role.
There is also a GP carers break which you may be eligible for if your GP has identified that you need a break now. This is only available to carers doing more than 20hrs per week in their caring role and will give you up to £750 to help you get a break.
Here is the link for information on Carers grants in Oxfordshire http://www.carersoxfordshire.org.uk/cms/content/grants-and-breaks
For information on your local council’s schemes you can search online using the following phrase and you should see some relevant results:
Carers grants [name of your town/county]
Remember, you can always fill out our form and we will put you in contact with service providers which meet your requirements.