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Getting a break from caring with respite care: What options are available to you?

If you care for someone, especially a person with dementia, you will know that caring can be a very difficult and stressful occupation. Although many carers do not realise how tired and stressed they are, a break from caring can be really refreshing and help them to carry on. Sometimes the carer may have other commitments or become ill and unable to cope for a short time, so respite care is needed until they are able to resume caring again.

What Respite Care Options Are Available?

If you look after someone at home, it may seem preferable to make arrangements for someone else to come into the home and take over your duties. This can have the benefit of causing less disruption to the person who is being cared for, but it is not always practical, particularly in cases where you look after a relative in your own home. You may need time to get some decorating done, or need to go on holiday but are not comfortable with the thought of someone else living in your home. If this is the case, you may prefer to look for respite care outside the home. If you are caring for someone with dementia, you may feel more at ease choosing short term respite care in a residential or nursing home, where you know there will be staff on duty 24 hours a day.

Discussing Respite Care

It is not usually a very good idea to discuss respite care with someone who has dementia too far in advance, as they may well be distressed and may have forgotten about it when the time comes. Near the time they will be going into respite care you can reassure them that it is just for a short holiday and that you will be coming to collect them and bring them home. Sometimes a calendar or list of days can be helpful for them to take, so that they can cross off days and know when they will be coming home. It is also very important to make sure the staff in the home know about their habits and what help they need, especially if they are unable to communicate very well. You can write a care plan detailing the care they need each day to help the staff in the home to look after them the way they are used to.

How Can I Arrange Respite Care?

Local authorities are responsible for assessing the needs of both people with dementia and their carers. If these have not already been carried out, it is a good idea to contact them and ask for assessments. The local authority will be able to tell you whether you are eligible for help with the cost of respite care and give you a list of suitable homes in your area. The CQC inspects all care homes and if you are looking, say, for respite care homes Surrey, you can see the latest report on the homes on the internet to see if they meet the essential standards of quality and safety. You can visit several homes and decide which will be most suitable and find out what fees are charged. When you have decided on a home, it is a good idea to take the person who will need respite care to visit so the surroundings will be more familiar when they are admitted. If possible, arranging for regular breaks will help both you and your relative, and even a week’s break every six to eight weeks can make all the difference to being able to continue caring for someone at home.

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