This summer we want to start a conversation on why holidays matter – to everyone.


As the weather turns warmer, many of us look forward with relish to the possibility of a holiday and a bit of time to sit back and relax. Just the thought of a break from our usual routine can sustain us through the winter months, and the benefits are felt long after the suitcases are unpacked and normal service has resumed.


However, for many carers and those they care for, having a break from their usual routine is simply not possible. Planning a holiday can sometimes be a stressful process, but when you add in the complexity of personal care, specialised equipment, accessible accommodation, and adapted transport – and the cost involved in sourcing these – it can often seem overwhelming and a holiday remains out of reach.


Short breaks, or holidays, are widely recognised as being fundamental to carers to help alleviate the physical and emotional demands of caring and to help sustain the caring relationship. Short breaks can be critical to a carer’s sense of health and wellbeing and, when provided in a way which meets the needs of the carer and the cared for person, can help prevent crisis support being required. But barriers to short breaks remain.


A 2012 report* showed that 57% of carers had not had a break, and almost half didn’t know how to access a short break. We want to change that. We want to start a conversation about why holidays are important to everyone, including carers and those that they support. We want carers to have the opportunity of a holiday too, through better information, support and entitlements. We’ll start by talking about it – we’d love it if you would join the conversation too.


*Statistics from Rest Assured report



of carers have never had a break*


of carers don't know how to access a break*


I saw how beneficial it can be for people continue to feel a sense of adventure.

Lucy Harding
Chief Operating Officer
Dementia Adventure
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Lucy Harding, Chief Operating Officer of Dementia Adventure shares her top tips for travelling with someone with dementia…

In my 7 years working in the travel industry I saw how beneficial it can be for people to take a break, experience new places and people, revisit beloved locations and continue to feel a sense of adventure in their lives. When I met Neil, he had been supporting people with dementia and carers for most of his career. We saw a lack of choice and control and a failure in the current system to offer anything which we would see as desirable if this illness were to affect us. Motivated by this, we decided to put our respective expertise together and offer a range of holidays and short breaks for people living with dementia and their carers to experience together.

To date, we have delivered 57 holidays and helped over 200 people take a much needed break. In that time we have learnt a lot about travelling with people with dementia. Dementia affects people so differently and of course everyone with dementia is an individual. However, here are some basic guidelines that should be useful in everyone’s situation.


  1. An extra pair of hands
    First and foremost there is simply a need for extra pairs of hands sometimes. If you are planning a trip try asking friends and relatives if they would be willing to go with you. If they are in short supply or unable to help due to other commitments, try asking a volunteer or a befriending service. If money is not a barrier you can ask a home care provider to supply a helper/carer for a week. People who are helping should ideally be someone who knows the person well. If they don’t they will need to be thoroughly briefed on their needs and preferences. They are there to help and must be constantly vigilant and reassuring.


  1. Ask for assistance
    All the train companies and airports offer assistance for disabled passengers. You qualify for this service. Just because your “disability” is not visible doesn’t mean it isn’t valid. So use this service whenever you can. Being taken to the front of a queue and given a helpful hand along the way can make a huge difference to how stressful a travel experience is. Local visitor attractions will also have assistance services – always ask.


  1. Allow plenty of time to do everything
    From travelling to the venue, to walking around a stately home’s garden. Literally taking the time to smell the roses will bring great rewards.


  1. Don’t be too ambitious
    Don’t try and pack everything in or do too much in one day.


  1. Take frequent breaks
    Making sure blood sugar levels are well topped up and that dehydration isn’t an issue will give you much more energy to enjoy yourselves. Savoury snacks or sweet treats like an ice-cream can provide useful incentives to go to places as well as welcome pick me ups in the course of a day.


  1. Be well organised
    If at all possible everything should be well organised, booked and preferably paid for before you go. Don’t leave anything important to chance and have a framework upon which to hang your holiday – then the fun can happen!


  1. Be positive and upbeat
    Do try to maintain a cheerful disposition. Even if something goes wrong try to adapt and move on. Don’t let it get you down, do something else instead. Having a stack of things such as jigsaws, photobooks and puzzles with you can be a helpful distraction in a difficult situation. People with dementia can be very sensitive to people’s moods and feelings so do be careful not to project any negativity.


  1. Physical comfort
    Make sure people are not too hot or too cold and have regular opportunities/prompts to go to the toilet – this reduces the risk of accidents. If your person is likely to take off in the wrong direction then buying a tracker like the one sold by Unforgettable is a good idea.


  1. Seek professional assistance
    Like Dementia Adventure there are other organisations who specialise in supporting people with dementia. Seek professional help if you feel you need that extra support. As well as us, you might consider The Mede, Amy’s care, Mind for You, Revitalise, Cherish holidays.


Dementia Adventure offer the first holiday in a calendar year at a rate subsidised by our charitable funding, so that as many people as possible can afford to access the help and support we offer. If you would like to talk about going on a Dementia Adventure holiday or how you can support us or volunteer with us, please call us on 01245 237 548 or go to



A short break doesn’t need to mean a holiday to mean a lot to a carer

Ian Boyle
Short Breaks Coordinator
Dundee Carers Centre
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Ian Boyle, Short Breaks Coordinator at Dundee Carers Centre shares his views on why holidays matter. And why a short break doesn’t necessarily need to mean a holiday to mean a lot to a carer.

When a carer is referred to our service for a short break the first thing we do is ask them to meet one of our brokers.

Our broker will chat to the carer to identify their greatest area of need and design a break that will best meet them. Regardless of what short break is chosen, we work to make sure it is realistic, possible, achievable and positive.

Brokers work hard to help the carer to find long term, sustainable solutions which work for them – and sometimes the cared for person too – and involve them in the process.

A short break that is right for that carer can develop their confidence, give them enjoyment and help them to continue with their caring role. In helping to develop a carer’s confidence we also hope to reduce their dependency on the short breaks.

We recently worked with a carer who came to us with no idea of what a short break could look like, let alone how she could receive one.

Carer Laura looks after her husband who is very much housebound. Laura couldn’t drive and this was beginning to cause frustrations: relying on friends and family to be taken to appointments, and not being able to go out left her feeling she had very little life balance, and increasingly isolated. After chatting with one of our brokers driving lessons were identified as the best way to benefit the carer to get a break. Being able to drive could give her back some confidence and help her actually achieve a life outside of the house for her and her husband.

The lessons have already changed her life.  She’s hoping to get back into employment one day, and being able to drive will help with this. Once she passes her test both she and her husband will really benefit. In the meantime, they have helped Laura re-focus and concentrate on something outside of her caring role.  It has also reduced her anxiety level and helped her become more confident about the future.

Laura said: “The lessons have been fantastic. I look forward to them, as I have to focus on me again! I’ve already passed the Theory test thanks to Dundee Carers Centre, and my husband is chuffed that I am doing something for myself.”

Holidays help restore balance

Don Williamson
Chief Executive
Shared Care Scotland
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Why do holidays matter?  Holidays help restore balance in our fast paced lives and give us energy to cope with life’s daily challenges.  Holidays remind us that life is to be lived and that there is a world beyond home and work to be explored and enjoyed.  Holidays are vital for strengthening family relationships and for our children’s development.


Why do holidays matter? Try imagining for a moment your life without holidays and you’ll get the picture.


It wasn’t long after starting at Shared Care Scotland that I came to realise just how much we can take holidays for granted.  1 in 7 people in Scotland are unpaid carers, caring for family members, partners or friends with a disability, a long term condition, or a drug or alcohol addiction.  For many in this situation, holidays must seem a distant mirage.  Having given up work, many carers have given up working because of their caring role and, as a direct result, will struggle financially; making it impossible to justify spending on a holiday.  And then there’s the significant additional costs of a supported break, the lack of suitable, accessible holiday provision, the need for expensive replacement care, or simply the sheer mental effort involved in finding information and getting everything in place… on top of everything else.


In truth there will be many thousands of people across the country who won’t be having a holiday this summer.


Through this campaign we want to highlight that holidays are not a luxury but a necessity and should be available to all.  We want to promote support for holidays as a cost effective way that statutory services can sustain carers in their caring role, in good health.  We want to improve access to information about breaks and other forms of help so that carers are not left to fend for themselves.  Fundamentally, we want this campaign to generate action that leads to more carers and cared-for people getting the break they deserve.


Please join in the conversation and show your support.


I’m dreaming of a short break

Lynn Williams
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Getting away as a carer isn’t easy; Lynn, who writes as Carer49, blogs about the challenges as the “Why Holidays Matter” campaign gets underway.


It’s that time of year when families start to prepare for their summer holiday. Schools finish up soon, bags are being packed and people begin their journeys to sun, sand and fun – or a wet tent on a windswept campsite.


For many others, however, having a break from the daily routine remains a dream. This could be because of poverty, because of ill health or because of caring responsibilities.


For carers, watching the annual get away can be emotional; the practicalities of planning and taking forward a holiday with your loved one can be overwhelming. How do you transport medical equipment? Is there a good hospital or GP surgery nearby? What if you need to get home because the person you care for is ill? Getting away is also a bit of an undertaking for my husband and me; it involves all of the above, and packing medical supplies, pads, our hoist, lots of clothes and medication. It’s a bit like packing for a massive Antarctic expedition!


Even a short break is hard work and getting away remains very dependent on my husband’s health. I think we’ve had to cancel four holidays over the last few years because the very thought of being transferred into the car and being driven to somewhere which isn’t home was just too much. An emergency admission also ended the prospect of a lovely holiday in Skye. With all of these challenges in mind, planning a holiday becomes even more stressful and it’s often easier just to stay at home.


Respite for carers is a complex issue: governments and officials can bandy the term around without considering what it really means to access a break of any kind. It’s not just about packing up and going somewhere, as much as you would want to.


Getting away can also be a bit of a busman’s holiday for carers. Your caring role doesn’t stop – it just moves to a different location. That works for some, but for others, the idea of getting away from caring is a dream unlikely to come true. My only real break from caring recently was respite provided by my local Carers Centre to allow me to recover from surgery. Getting to that point wasn’t easy – it involved emergency planning, fitting equipment and agreeing care and support. All for an overnight stay and a recovery period of just a few weeks.


This is the reality of caring and short breaks.


More broadly, the challenges facing families with disability and carers include the inconsistent and often baffling approach to implementing self-directed support. For one carer I know, planning a short break away with her son is relatively easy and has great benefits for both. Yet, in the same local authority area another family is prevented from doing the same. These issues, alongside waiting lists for respite support, are areas which I think the new Carers Act is unlikely to address.


It is good that the #whyholidaysmatter campaign will bring these issues into the public domain. In doing so, it mustn’t water down or skirt over the way in which families with disability are treated. Getting away for a break is important for everyone – it’s about recuperation, relaxing and looking after you. Unfortunately, for so many families, the challenges in achieving this are often insurmountable.

Holidays are a chance to try something new

Gill Brittle
Retiring Respitality Developer
Shared Care Scotland
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Our Respitality Developer has just embarked on her latest adventure: retirement. Here she tells us why holidays matter to her.
Holidays give you the opportunity to try new activities. Activities you would never do at home. And find out something about someone………
Last October we went on holiday to Gozo and took the opportunity to go kayaking. Living in Edinburgh, it’s not the type of activity that we would ever contemplate doing. Too cold, too difficult to find somewhere to try it out, too busy! So we saw a kayaking tour advertised and my husband was very keen. He had never tried this before and I had to tell him something he didn’t know about his partner of 30 years! Being brought up in Largs and a keen Guide meant I had some considerable experience of canoeing. It never seemed relevant before. So we booked on the kayaking tour.  I was lead paddler! We explored the coast, worked as a team and showed the younger participants a clean pair of paddles. We will look out for kayaking trips in the future.
The picture shows us kayaking in front of the Azure Window in Gozo. It’s now a very poignant picture as this world famous landmark was destroyed in storms in March 2017.


So why do holidays matter?
– Chance to try new activities
– Learn that you have many talents – some hidden!
– See famous landmarks
– Take opportunities whilst you can.

“Holidays for all!” … and no need to be ashamed about it.

Philip Bryers
Chair of Shared Care Scotland
Shared Care Scotland
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Philip Bryers, Chair of Shared Care Scotland blogs on why holidays matter to him.


There was a stage in my working life when it was a badge of pride to reach the end of the year with unused annual leave. There were also times when I went off on family holidays with a large bundle of paperwork which took half the week to process before ‘holiday proper’ could begin. This was before the all-pervasive presence of instant communication when – however far you go – the i-pad and the mobile can still find you.

It was before anyone came up with the phrase ‘work-life balance’ too. I guess things have changed but nothing can beat a ‘real break’ with all thought of the office banished, and a determination to let an ‘Out of the office’ message take care of all work-related intrusions.

We all need to ‘switch off’, to have a change of scenery, and to slow down now and again. There’s truth in the imagery of ‘recharging your batteries’ as anyone knows who has experienced the surge of energy and achievement which is released by a ‘proper break’.

All this is as applicable to carers as to employees, so why not be up front and say loud and clear that we all need holidays – and that includes carers. Or we could give those in paid employment an ‘allocation of respite’ in place of their ‘annual leave entitlement’. I don’t think so! So let’s stop being mealy-mouthed and be up front with HOLIDAYS for carers. They, above all, need holidays and the restorative boost a proper holiday can provide.

Important: Opinions expressed by bloggers are their own and don’t necessarily represent those of Shared Care Scotland.

Are you

If you’re a carer thinking about a short break, or a holiday, we can help.

Planning your break

Our short break planner is a good place to start. In here you’ll find tools such as ‘My Ideal Break’ which can help you think about what you’d really like from a break and what your ideal break might look like.

Funding your break

We know that sometimes the worry about how to fund a short break or holiday can be too big a barrier to overcome. There are, however, sources of funding available for some people.

Our funding page gives details on how you could fund your short break, including information on self-directed support, our searchable funding directory which lists grants from individual trusts too.

You may also find the website a good source of information.  As well as having a comprehensive directory of trusts and funds they also give advice about benefits.

Finding your break

Finding a short break or holiday that suits your needs couldn’t be simpler with our online directory. With over 400 short break services listed you can search by location, the type of care need required, age and accessibility.

Telephone enquiry service

If you prefer to talk to someone about finding your short break, rather than looking online, our telephone enquiry service is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm. Call 01383 622462 to speak to Lesley about the type of break you’re hoping for, and we’ll help get you on the right track.

If you’re an organisation providing short breaks to carers in Scotland then there are a number of ways in which Shared Care Scotland works to support you.


The Short Breaks Fund provides grants to third sector organisations that support unpaid carers to take a break from their caring role. The fund aims to increase the range and availability of short breaks across Scotland, allowing more carers to take the right break at the right time.

Shared Care Scotland operates the Short Breaks Fund on behalf of the National Carers Organisations and the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government currently funds the Short Breaks Fund on a rolling annual basis.


At Shared Care Scotland we aim to work with organisations that support carers, including those funded through our Short Breaks Funds, to ensure that they also have the information, tools and support that they need to help improve the quality, choice and availability of Short Breaks for unpaid carers across Scotland. We do this through the provision of resources including toolkits, briefings, publications and in sharing research on short breaks. 


We regularly run events and provide networking opportunities top facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practice across short breaks provision. We detail all of these through our events page and also as part of our learning exchange.



Respitality, Respite + Hospitality, originated in the USA and provides a unique way for Carers Centres and the Scottish Hospitality sector to work together to provide short breaks to full-time unpaid carers.

It works through the hospitality industry gifting short breaks –  overnight stays, meals, spa days, afternoon tea -during quieter periods when it suits the business, so that carers can benefit from a break with Scottish hospitality!

Find out more, or make a gift, on the respitality website.

Our online directory

We host an online directory of over 400 short break services in Scotland. Is your organisation listed yet?

Whether you’re a provider of traditional respite care, or a guest house that offers accessible accommodation, we would love for you to be listed. Its easy to register and can all be done online.

If you’re thinking about a short break, or a holiday, we can help guide you through the steps in planning a break that will work for you and the care needs that you have.

Planning your break

Our short break planner is a good place to start. In here you’ll find tools such as ‘Services Explained’. This guide might help you identify the type of break that you are looking for and also the names that are given to certain services, this could make it easier to find exactly what you are looking for.

Funding your break

We know that sometimes the worry about how to fund a short break or holiday can be too big a barrier to overcome. There are, however, sources of funding available for some people.

Our funding page gives details on how you could fund your short break, including information on self-directed support, our searchable funding directory which lists grants from individual trusts too.

You may also find the website a good source of information.  As well as having a comprehensive directory of trusts and funds they also give advice about benefits.

Finding your break

Finding a short break or holiday that suits your needs couldn’t be simpler with our online directory. With over 400 short break services listed you can search by location, the type of care need required, age and accessibility.

Telephone enquiry service

If you prefer to talk to someone about finding your short break, rather than looking online, our telephone enquiry service is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm. Call 01383 622462 to speak to Lesley about the type of break you’re hoping for, and we’ll help get you on the right track.

If you’re interested in finding out more about short breaks and why holidays matter, we can point you in the right direction.


Shared Care Scotland has a collection of good practice examples in short breaks and respite provision, hosted on the IRISS website.

Holidays Matter

Holidays Matter is a network of different organisations – including Shared Care Scotland – who are committed to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to benefit from breaks away from home. Their wide ranging collection of research on holidays can be accessed via their website.


The International Short Breaks Association hosts a biennial conference on short breaks. More information is available on their website.

Short Break Stories

Short Break Stories offers a collection of inspiring accounts of short break projects funded through the Short Breaks Fund.

Covering all areas of Scotland these stories collectively build a picture of short break provision across the country.


Get involved

You too can join our conversation on why holidays matter. Here’s how you can take part.


Our Thunderclap on Friday 23 June kicked off the conversation in style – thank you to everyone who took part.


You can continue to show your support on social media over the summer period. Download one of our social share images, or our #whyholidaysmatter sheet, tell us why holidays matter to you – maybe its time to relax, time with your family, or just a break from the usual routine? – take a snap and share it on social media with the hashtag #whyholidaysmatter. Don’t forget to tag us @carebreaks.


Let us know if you’ve got a story to tell. If you’re a carer and have felt the benefit of a short break and you’d like to share that, we can help. Or maybe you’re a provider of short breaks and you can see the benefits every day in the work that you do too. Get in touch and tell us why holidays matter to you too. We’d love to hear from you.


Tell your friends. Please share the conversation far and wide, and keep checking back here – we’ll be adding blogs regularly between now and September.



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