In this section we explain how people get a short break or respite care service and how this is funded
You can contact your local authority for assistance to take a short break. If you are seeking financial help, a Community Care Assessment (sometimes known as a Single Shared Assessment or an Integrated Assessment for children) will be carried out to determine what support you need and how often, and also whether you are eligible for financial assistance. To ask for an assessment you should contact your local authority Social Work office. Carers are entitled to an assessment of their own needs and this includes your need for a break.
Click here to go to a short video case study on Carers Assessment.
Getting an assessment can take time and so we would advise that you make contact as early as possible. Some local authorities will ask you to fill in a short self-assessment form which will help them decide whether a more in depth assessment is required and how quickly this needs to happen. In emergency situations timescales will be short.
Local authorities have different policies and procedures in place for allocating support and it’s likely you will have to meet certain eligibility criteria. This is to help local authorities use their resources effectively and ensure those most in need are helped first. You can ask your local authority for details of their eligibility criteria and assessment procedures.
Needing help? Your local Carers Centre is also a good source of advice and information. You might also consider the services of an advocacy organisation if you are not feeling very confident about asking for advice or help. Advocacy workers are independent and are there to help you get your views and concerns across and to make sure you are listened to.
(Even if you choose not to ask for an assessment or seek help with paying for the break, you’re local authority should still be able to offer you advice and information. You shouldn’t have to fend for yourself!)
In some cases, the NHS may be able to provide short-term care, particularly if there are healthcare needs involved. You can speak to your GP about this.
Funding a Short Break
- self funded – you arrange and pay for a short break service
- partially funded – the costs of the break may be shared between you and the local authority
- *fully funded – the break may be fully funded by the local authority.
*It is unlikely that a fully funded break will be provided by the local authority, except for Children Services. Local authorities may carry out a financial assessment for short breaks and would only waive the charge in exceptional circumstances. However, recent changes in law (April 2014) do mean that if a local authority chooses to provide a service to give the carer a break – normally following a Carers Assessment – then they cannot charge for providing this service. This is explained in the Charging for Social Care Services guidance produced by the National Carer Organisations which can be downloaded here (PDF)
There is no charge for NHS services but benefit payments may be affected by longer stays in hospital, or any registered care home funded by health or social work.
Direct Payments & Self Directed Support
Where a local authority is able to support the break finanically, the costs for the short break service may be paid directly to an approved provider by the local authority or, if you are eligible, you can receive money in the form of a Direct Payment or Voucher that can then be used more flexibly to purchase a service of your choice.
In Scotland, Direct Payments are paid to supported people using services (or to those acting on their behalf with parental responsibility, power of attorney or legal guardianship) and from April 2014 eligible carers too can receive a Direct Payment in their own right. This may be used to purchase a short break.
Direct Payments are a form of ‘Self Directed Support’ which include other means to give people more control of the services and support they need to live the life they choose. For further information about Self Directed Support and Direct Payments go to www.selfdirectedsupportscotland.org.uk
Here’s what they have to say about Direct Payments and Short Breaks…
“Can I (use Direct Payments to) buy occasional short breaks?
Yes, respite is a short break which is to act as a positive experience for the person with support needs and the carer, where there is one. The term includes a wide range of different services of limited duration.
“The common factor is not what service is provided, but its purpose. Respite can be offered in a wide variety of settings, including breaks in residential homes, respite-only units (e.g. specialist guest houses), breaks in the home of another individual or family who have been specially recruited, breaks at home through a support worker or sitting service, or holiday type breaks.”
All local authorities are now duty bound to provide information, support and advice about Self – directed Support.
Click on our presentation below for more information about new regulations around Self-directed Support.
If the local authority can’t help, you may be eligible to apply to a charitable trust for help to pay for a break. Examples of national charities providing financial support include:
- The Family Fund – www.familyfund.org.uk
- Take A Break Fund – www.takeabreakscotland.org.uk
- Family Holiday Association – www.fhaonline.org.uk
- Saga Respite for Carers Trust – www.saga.co.uk
- You can also refer to our Funding Directory for other Trusts that we have found.
Local charities that support short breaks, or organisations that focus on particular disabilities or conditions may also be able to help. Again the Citizen Advice Bureau, Carers Centre or the local branch of a disability organisation should be able to offer further information and advice.
Not getting the service you think you are entitled to?
If you feel that you are not getting a service that you think you are entitled to or you’re unhappy about the service that is being delivered, you can submit an official complaint to your local authority.
If you have a concern or suggestion about a service, write or speak to a member of staff or the service manager in the first instance. Contact information for this, and other council services is listed on your local authority’s website or in the phone book.
Your local authority welcomes feedback on the standard of service it provides. In this way they can learn from mistakes and improve services.
If you are not happy with your reply
A service manager normally sends you a written reply within a certain number of working days from receiving your complaint.
If you are still not happy, you can contact your authority’s complaints officer. The complaints officer will confirm that they have received your complaint and, after investigation with the department concerned, they will send you a written reply.
Your local authority will be committed to responding to a complaint within a set number of days. Again, local circumstances vary slightly and you should contact your local authority for full details.
Sadly we are aware that many people have to fight hard to get the service they need. Persistence can pay off though.
Taking your complaint further
The Scottish Public Service Ombudsman is an organisation that deals with complaints about councils, the National Health Service, and most Scottish public bodies.
You can complain directly to the ombudsman at any time, but they usually only consider your complaint after it has been looked at under your local authority’s or public organisation’s complaints procedure. You can contact the ombudsman’s Freephone Adviceline on 0800 377 7330 for general help and assistance before submitting a complaint.
The SPSO is also the final stage for complaints about councils, the National Health Service, housing associations, colleges and universities, the Scottish Government and others.
The role of the SPSO was further extended on 1st April 2017. Previously the SPSO was restricted to determining if due process had been properly followed but now the SPSO can consider the decisions arrived at by social work and the professional judgement that led to this decision. SPSO already consider professional judgement in health complaints, which means that social work and health complaints now follow the same process.
Further information about making a complaint can be found at:
Scottish Public Service Ombudsman: www.spso.org.uk