In this section we explain the different ways that people can have a break
Taking a break 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, or some other building based service. 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.”
National Care Standards, Respite Care and Short Break Services for Adults
The following list shows examples of the different ways that breaks can be provided. Some local authorities may not fund all of these types of short breaks.
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 group catered for, facilities may be able to offer specialist care. Click here for examples from our Directory
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. Click here for examples from our Directory
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. Click here for examples from our Directory
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. Click here for examples from our Directory
These opportunities might focus on a particular activity (e.g. sports clubs, leisure activities) and may be based in a community building. These generally take place over a few hours perhaps once or twice a week or, in the case of disabled children, they may be planned over the school holidays. The availability of adapted equipment or trained workers can help people with support needs to enjoy these activities. Click here for examples from our Directory
These include opportunities for people to have a short break together, or independently. 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. Click here for examples from our Directory
Befriending normally involves a paid worker or volunteer assisting someone with care and support needs to have access to activities, for example going to the cinema, meeting friends, shopping, swimming and other such leisure pursuits. Befriending can be on a one-to-one basis or as part of a group. Click here for examples from our Directory
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.
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.
Increasingly, with the development of Self-directed Support, more people are finding creative ways to take a break that don’t necessarily involve external services. You can find some examples of these by clicking here.