Short break services explained
In this section we explain the different ways that people can have a break
Respite care means a carer and the person they care for being supported to have a break from their normal routine and the often stressful demands of their caring situation. People without a carer can also benefit from a break from their home circumstances.
Short breaks are an essential part of the overall support that families and carers need to help them care for a family member, partner or friend. Short breaks should deliver positive outcomes for both the carer and the person with care needs. Outcomes might include:
- A break from day-to-day routines
- A chance to experience new things
- Time to rest and recharge the batteries
- Opportunities to meet new people and maintain friendships
- Time for personal interests, leisure or cultural activities
- Improved health and well being
- Greater independence
One size doesn’t fit all
Services that provide breaks from caring can take many forms. Traditionally respite care has meant a break in a care home or nursing home. This type of break may be suitable for some but people want more choices about how, where and when the break is provided. Families or couples may want to have a break together with some extra support, or they may choose to have some time apart. Breaks will vary from a few hours to a few weeks and may be arranged on a regular planned basis, as a holiday or to deal with an unexpected emergency.
"What's important is that people should be given choices so that they can have a break that meets their needs and circumstances. A break that people enjoy and find stimulating helps everyone to feel comfortable and enjoy the experience.
They should be good for both a person with a disability, long term illness or need and for their carer (where they have one). Short breaks should support their relationship. They should offer opportunities and experiences tailored to meet individual needs in a variety of settings. Short breaks can be either time apart or time together with extra support. Short breaks can vary from several hours to several weeks. They can be provided on a planned basis, as a holiday or in emergencies."
National Care Standards, Respite Care and Short Break Services for Adults
The following list shows the range of different ways that breaks can be provided. You can find examples of these in the case study section. Some local authorities may not fund all of these types of short breaks.
Breaks in specialist/dedicated respite accommodation
These breaks are based in accommodation which is used only for respite/short breaks. The
accommodation might be guest houses, community flats, purpose-built or adapted
accommodation. Depending on the care group catered for, facilities may be able to offer
Breaks in care homes (with or without nursing care)
Some care homes may have a small number of places set aside specifically for respite
breaks. Rather than simply offering a ‘spare bed’ the home will provide separate facilities
with a carefully planned programme of activities for short-term guests to suit individual needs and interests.
Breaks in the home of another individual or family
These involve overnight breaks provided by paid or volunteer carers in their own home. These are sometimes referred to as shared care, family based or adult placement schemes. Families or individuals offering this support are carefully recruited and registered - normally by the local authority or through voluntary sector organisations.
Breaks provided at home through a care attendant or sitting service
This includes individual support provided in the home of the cared for person for periods of a few hours or overnight. The purpose may be to provide support while the carer is away, or to support the carer in other ways, e.g. by enabling the carer to have an undisturbed night’s sleep.
Supported access to clubs, interest or activity groups
These opportunities might focus on a particular activity (e.g. lunch clubs, leisure activities)
and may be based in a day centre or community building. These generally take place over a
few hours, perhaps once or twice a week. The availability of adpated equipment or specialist support workers can help people with care needs to enjoy these activities.
These include opportunities for the carer and cared for person to have a short break or for
them to go away separately. These breaks can be supported in different ways - through an
agency specialising in breaks for people with particular needs, in adapted accommodation or
in ordinary hotels and guest houses, perhaps with additional equipment. More mainstream
breaks may also be possible with the support of a paid carer or companion.
Befriending schemes where volunteers provide short breaks
Befriending normally involves a paid worker or volunteer accompanying the ‘befriendee’ to
social and leisure activities, for example going to the cinema, meeting friends, shopping,
swimming and other such activities.
Day care is typically based in a community building and provided by a local authority or
voluntary organisation. The degree of flexibility varies; most are characterised by fixed
opening hours on particular days; some offer a drop in service whereby people can attend for part of the day only. Day care is not generally provided for short break or respite purposes but services which offer more flexible arrangements, designed around the needs of both the client and carer, can achieve this purpose.
Hospital/Hospice based respite
This type of break is for people who need medical supervision because of complex or intense health care needs. Some facilities are designed in such a way to create a more homely environment with guest bedrooms, lounges and activity programmes. Some short term hospital based care provides a respite break for the carer.