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How long can respite care last?

What is respite care?

Respite care is a service which is provided to people who require health and social care and their carers, which consists of a period of temporary care, usually in a residential setting at a care home or similar facility. This allows a carer – whether they are a professional live-in or visiting carer or an unpaid family member, spouse or friend – to have a valuable break and avoid burnout. During this time, the person they normally care for is looked after safely, either in a care home or similar setting, or else by a carer in their home, meaning that they still get all the support they need. 

How long does respite care normally last? 

The regular length of respite care is normally for a short time, but there is considerable variation within this limited time frame. Depending on the carers personal needs, respite care can last anywhere from a couple of hours, to several weeks. For example, a period of respite care could be for a few days while the normal carer has a weekend away, or it could last a month, following a hospital stay or while decisions are being made about the future direction of a person’s care.

Who can benefit from respite care?

Respite care is hugely beneficial for carers as well as for the people they care for. It provides a much-needed break for those who have caring responsibilities, whether as a professional carer or as an unpaid carer who is looking after a family member or friend. Respite care allows these individuals to recharge, and supports their mental health and wellbeing. This is extremely important as it allows carers to return to their caring responsibilities in a more positive state of mind, helping them to have greater energy and patience when they return. 

For those being cared for, respite care can be an opportunity to meet new people if they move temporarily into a care home setting or are looked after by a visiting or live-in carer. Being cared for by different people, especially health and social care professionals, can also help bring a fresh perspective, allowing issues to be spotted and more effective solutions found which will benefit the person’s care going forward.   

Take a look at The Fremantle Trust’s Respite Care Nursing and Residential Homes.

Will the council pay for respite care?

While it’s certainly not universal, there is some funding available for people who need to access respite care. To see whether you’re eligible for funding for respite care from your local council, get in touch with social services and organise a care needs assessment. This is free and will involve local authority social workers measuring your needs or those of the person you’re caring for, against a number of different criteria. If the assessment indicates that you require respite care, a financial needs assessment will be carried out. This is to decide whether your financial circumstances mean you’re unable to pay for the care yourself and are therefore eligible for council funding. 

If you receive funding from your local council, it’s likely that you won’t have as much choice about the exact kind of respite care you get, or where you can receive it. However, you may receive direct payments from the local authority in some cases, which will allow you more flexibility.

How else can you access respite care? 

If you’re unable to secure funding for respite care from your local council, you may be able to find affordable or free respite care with the help of a charity. Organisations like the Carers Trust and Turn2Us can offer grants for respite care to carers and those who need care. The process for obtaining these grants is normally very similar to the assessments carried out by local authorities. If you’re financially able to, it’s likely you’ll have to fund the care yourself. While it can be expensive, this will allow you the maximum amount of flexibility and personal choice over the care you pick. 

Is there a limit to the amount of respite care you can have?

Respite care comes in a number of different forms and there is significant variation in how long it can last. For those receiving funding for respite care from a local council or from a charity, there will most likely be a set limit to the number of days or weeks which you can be supported for. However, if you’re paying for the care yourself, you’re much more free to decide on how long you want the care to last. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re receiving benefits such as Carer’s Allowance, you should check whether taking a break from caring will impact the benefits you can receive. This particularly applies if you’re intending to take a longer break, and you decide to use respite care services for a month or more.

If you or a loved one requires respite care, The Fremantle Trust can help ensure appropriate support is given to caregivers, whilst offering the highest quality of care to the individual in need. Contact us today to find out more about how our respite care services can help you.