The Value of Respite Care

Watching a beloved partner, parent or friend become steadily more confused, forgetful, depressed and  irritable as dementia sets in, is a frightening and lonely experience. Having to deal with your loved one’s strange new set of behaviour patterns and providing constant care is exhausting and can quickly become very isolating. However well equipped you are, offering relentless support can take its toll on you mentally and physically, and caregiver burnout is a very real problem.

Having a break  isn’t a luxury, but rather an essential part of providing effective care. Respite support is a necessity, and with a bit of research, it is possible to arrange the best care for your loved one with dementia, whilst also looking after yourself as the caregiver.

Respite Care Takes Many Different Forms

Respite breaks can take many forms and importantly can be tailored to meet your individual circumstances.

It can be provided within your own home, or at a different location. It may be for just a couple of hours a week as and when you need it, a set regular daily or weekly arrangement, or an occasional longer term arrangement to allow you a much needed holiday.

Availability will depend on the area in which you live, as services do vary locally. However, some ideas to explore could be:

  • A volunteer or paid companion to visit your home and provide you with a  short break
  • Support groups, such as Memory Cafes organised by charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society or Memory Matters UK
  • Specialist day care centres which may provide transportation, meals and social activities
  • A short-term live-in carer
  • A short term residential stay at a care home

Residential respite care

Helping handMany residential care homes now offer respite care, tailoring their care to meet the need of each person’s particular needs. You can rest in the knowledge that the care-givers looking after dementia patients have been specially trained and have the patience, compassion and skills to care for the needs of those with brain disease. Many care homes now specialise in dementia care and may be able to offer specialist facilities and activities not available to you at home. Short term stays can provide you and your loved one with a means of becoming familiar with a particular care home without having to commit to long term arrangements, and can be helpful in developing contacts should full time care become essential in the future.

Respite care at home

Many times people with brain disease are traumatised at the idea of staying in strange surroundings. Many care providers offer personalised respite care services for dementia patients in their own homes and surroundings. Qualified care givers will come to where they are needed and will come for a morning, a day or make arrangements to stay for a weekend, an entire week or longer. Some nursing homes provide  overnight services too.

Will I have to pay for respite Care?

Before choosing respite care, think carefully about whether you want assistance with personal care, nursing care, or both. In some areas, respite care will be provided by your local authority after you’ve had a carer’s assessment. In other areas, access to respite care is provided through a community care assessment for the person you’re looking after. It’s therefore best to make sure that both of you are assessed. Your local Social Services Department will consider what help you need and decide which community care services it will provide to help you. Many times costs are covered or part-covered by local councils if you are unable to pay for help.

National Care Standards

If you use a registered care service or are going to need one in the future, the Care Quality Commission provides helpful information on what a service must do to ensure high quality services and carries out regular inspections to ensure providers comply with these standards.

Even though you may be anxious to find respite care urgently, you need to be 100% sure that you have the right carer. Apart from conducting interviews, remember to check out payment schedules and verify all information such as qualifications, experience and reference.

There are Positive Changes You can Make

Care giving is a demanding and sometimes lonely job, but with the right respite care, you will  know you are not alone; there are capable carers who will lighten your load and also offer a means to maintaining your own health, which is top priority for being able to be a care giver to someone you love.