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Respite isn't just for the person being looked after but also for the carer too. There are a number of ways that parent carers can get help. You (and the person you care for) may also be able to get financial help from the government through income support and a range of benefits. You may be entitled to a carers assessment which will help you to talk about what you need and what is available.

Seeking support and maintaining your own health are key to managing your role as a caregiver. Using respite care before you become exhausted, isolated, or overwhelmed is ideal, but just anticipating regular relief can become a lifesaver.

Respite care can take many forms, but boils down to two basic ideas: sharing the responsibility for caregiving and getting support for yourself and finding the right balance.

Children and Young People Respite care

Respite care provides a series of pre-planned short term placements of a particular child with the same carer. The length and timing of the arrangements can vary according to the specific needs of the child and their family. This could also include a home sitting service usually arranged with an agency.

The 1989 Children Act provides a clear legislative framework for the provision of short-term care. The Act requires children to be consulted about their needs and about the services to be provided and if a child is using "respite care", the local authority's Social Services must draw up a care plan, visit the child from time to time and review the placements on a regular basis. Whichever agency is providing the short-term care, it should always be part of an integrated and co-ordinated approach to meeting the child's needs.

Respite care can be arranged on a one off or a regular basis. It may also be in the form of a short break such as a morning or afternoon club.

Primarily, the respite care provides day care for children, which could involve providing respite for just mornings, afternoons, after school or at times over the weekend. On occasions, where appropriate, respite carers can be asked to have the child for overnight stays. There are instances when respite carers can be asked to provide longer terms of care. This would be subject to their availability, approval and providing that this does not exceed a period of four weeks.

Carer’s Assessment

All carers have the right to a free Carer's Assessment from social services.

The assessment gives carers the opportunity to:

  • provide an overview of the care and support you currently provide
  • say which caring tasks you are willing and able to continue with and what you need help with
  • say how caring impacts on your own health and well-being.

This information will help, understand your support needs and decide what support you are eligible for.

How to get an Assessment

Complete an online Carer’s Assessment or download a paper copy at: Carers Assessment Forms (for those caring for anyone over 18 years) 

  • 0118 937 3747 if you look after a Reading adult
  • 0118 937 3641 if you are the parent carer of a disabled child

You have the right to have a Carer's Assessment even if the person you look after doesn't want help from social care.

Using direct payments to get time off caring

After your assessment, if you are eligible for support, your local authority will develop a support plan with you. This will include a personal budget, which you can choose to have as a direct payment.

For example, you may choose to:

  • Hire a care worker through an agency so you can go on a shopping trip
  • Use the direct payment to pay for a supported holiday for both you and the person you care for

Alternatives to direct payments

You may also want to consider funding or getting a break from caring by:

  • Asking for care organised by your local authority
  • Getting funding from a benevolent fund or charity, such as Family Fund
  • Paying for a break yourself
  • Accessing bursaries and low-cost holidays

NHS Choices - Carers Breaks & Respite Care

Carers Trust

Reading & West Berkshire Carers Hub

Crossroads Care Reading

Young Carers Reading Borough Council

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Updated 07/08/2019