Being a carer can be a tough job. Whether paid or unpaid, the daily pressures are an inevitable companion to the overall sense of satisfaction.
The role is both physically and mentally demanding, especially if the person you’re caring for is a loved one. Over time, the emotional challenges faced by carers can take their toll.
And that’s when respite care takes centre stage. A chance for carers to take a break, safe in the knowledge their crucial role is still being carefully performed by someone else.
Here we explore the different types of respite care for the elderly, how much it costs and why respite home care may be just the solution you’re looking for.
What is respite care?
Respite care is the opportunity for a person’s usual carer to have a break.
In their place, a different carer steps in to ensure the person being cared for has all their needs met as usual.
In this article, we’ll be focusing on those who provide care to a partner, relative or friend in their own home. The people balancing their role as an unpaid carer with their own job, family and other responsibilities. The people who regularly need time for themselves.
These breaks are essential to the carers’ mental health, as well as freeing up time to work, study, take a holiday, complete general life admin or simply just to rest. Add in the additional pressures created by the recent lockdowns and sufficient respite care becomes even more crucial.
This alternative care arrangement could be on a regular basis, such as a specific day each week, or for a short period, such as a week, for a longer break.
The carer will return rested and refreshed, having taken positive steps to reduce the chances of stress or burnout. And the person receiving care will also benefit. A friendly new face, who will become familiar over time, will introduce new insights and experiences to their day.
While the primary purpose of respite care is to give carers a break, it’s helpful in other circumstances:
- When the person needing care has additional, short-term needs such as following an illness or operation, specialist nursing respite care can be arranged.
- If a family crisis arises which means their usual carer isn’t available, emergency respite care can easily be set up.
- If different care arrangements are being considered, respite care gives the opportunity to trial live-in care at home or permanent residential care.
What are the different types of respite care?
For those needing a break from caring duties, there are several types of respite care to choose from. The ideal option will depend on individual circumstances and needs, including the level of care required.
Respite home care
Home care respite services centre on maximising consistency and limiting disruption.
While you’re not available to fulfil your caring duties, you can pay for a professional carer to meet your loved one’s specific needs. They’ll do everything you do including personal care, preparing meals, running errands, general housekeeping jobs and, of course, offering companionship and a kind, listening ear.
If they’re reluctant to leave their own home, respite home care services are ideal to provide continuity, familiarity and reassurance. They’ll simply receive expert care at home instead of at a care home while you have a much-needed break.
Respite live-in care
If your loved one usually receives round-the-clock care from you, this can also be replicated by a professional carer. Live-in care means just that: a dedicated carer moves into your loved one’s home to ensure they’re safe, comfortable and independent.
They’ll be there to help them get up in the mornings, will support them throughout the day and be available at night in case of an emergency. Choosing respite live-in care provides the ultimate reassurance that your loved one can stay in the familiar surroundings of home with a trusted companion by their side.
Day care centres
A regular trip to a day care centre can provide carers with a block of time to take a break from their responsibilities.
These offer your loved one the chance to socialise, make friends and take part in a range of different activities. They may also offer useful services like hairdressing, podiatry and assisted bathing.
Day care centres are usually run by local councils or charities such as Age UK and can be an easy way to build a regular weekly routine.
However, for overnight or longer respite needs, their suitability is limited.
Respite care at a care home
A short stay in a residential or nursing home, depending on needs, could be a suitable form of respite care.
The most important consideration here is whether your loved one will feel comfortable leaving their home.
While some will take it in their stride and welcome the change of scene, for those with dementia, it could cause confusion and anxiety. Although some care homes offer specialist dementia care, you may find the disruption and potential upset too high a price to pay.
Instead, they’re more likely to benefit from staying at home to enjoy their usual routine and familiar comforts. When their respite carer at home is consistent and the transitions occur smoothly, they’ll soon adapt to the arrangement without having to get used to a different location too.
For those who feel comfortable staying at a care home, be aware that it can be difficult to get respite spaces at short notice. You must also work together to find a home that both you and your loved one are happy with. Take your time with this as it’s important to get it right.
Help from family or friends
Another respite care option is to ask members of your family or close friends if they could cover your caring duties while you’re not available. While this may work for a once-a-year holiday, it’s likely to be more challenging to find someone willing to commit to regular visits.
How do home care respite services work?
When you choose respite care at home, you’ll enjoy ultimate flexibility.
If you’re going on holiday and visit your loved one twice a day, you can arrange for a paid carer to visit twice a day while you’re away. They’ll replicate when you visit and what you do during those visits.
If you stay overnight three nights a week but need to reduce this to two, you can pay a carer to take over this responsibility once a week.
If you currently don’t have time to visit them on a Wednesday and are concerned they’re not taking their medication, you can find a home carer to come round and relieve that worry. And it means your loved one will have guaranteed company that day too.
If you’re currently juggling getting your children to school with making sure your loved one is up, washed and dressed, you can employ a carer to visit in the mornings to relieve the pressure. Your caring day will then be shorter so you can focus on more quality time together.
The potential scenarios are endless. What’s important to remember is that respite care doesn’t need to be full-time. It can give you the time and space to live your life while knowing your loved one is being cared for to a high standard.
What does a home respite carer do?
In a nutshell, everything you do in your everyday caring role.
Whether they live in your loved one’s home or visit at regular times, you can rest assured they’ll be working from a dedicated support plan to ensure all their care needs are met.
Choose Holm and you’ll also get peace of mind that their carer, and the respite care they provide, is consistent. The same familiar face at their door following the same familiar routine.
While especially important for those with dementia, this uniformity of care helps to build trust and relationships for all, while also making the transition between caregivers smooth and stress-free.
They’ll effortlessly pick up where you left off and perform essential tasks such as:
- personal care including dressing, showering and toileting
- mobility support to help them move around the house
- companionship and emotional support
- preparing meals and doing housework
- administering medication
- doing the food shopping
- accompanying your loved one on walks and trips out
- feeding and caring for any pets
While you’re at work or university, at home or on holiday, you’ll know your loved one is receiving exactly the same home care and support you usually provide.
How much does respite care cost?
The cost of respite care depends entirely on the type you need, the hours involved and any speciality support required.
As a broad guide, expect to pay between £700-£1500 per week for full-time residential care or £15-£25 per hour for respite home care. A live-in home carer will usually be a more cost-effective option than a care home.
At Holm, for example, their transparent hourly rates are £15 Monday to Saturday during the day, £17.50 Monday to Saturday at night, and £22.50 on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Opt for live-in care and prices start from £720 a week.
It’s also important to find out if you’re eligible for any local authority funding. Read our guide here to learn how financing care, including respite care, works. This will help you assess if you can access any funding or if you’ll have to pay for it yourself.
How to find a respite home care provider
One you’ve decided to use home care respite services, you’ll want find a reputable and reliable care provider.
After researching options online, you can use the following checklist to narrow your search:
- Can you personally choose the best carer to meet your loved one’s unique needs?
- Can the provider reassure you that the same carer will visit each time?
- Do they guarantee a minimum one-hour visit length or will the carer literally just be ‘popping in’?
- How much do they charge and are they transparent about prices?
- Can you read testimonials from satisfied clients?
- Can you communicate with your carer directly or do you need to go through a third party?
- Is every carer vigorously vetted?
- What’s their philosophy about providing care? Does it resonate with your personal values?
For example, Holm is a new style of homecare service which thoroughly vets carers working across Greater Manchester and connects you directly to them.
Once they’ve been approved to provide care services, you can search an online database for someone who matches your precise needs.
You’ll then get extra reassurance thanks to a highly personalised service which offers control and certainty. A service which can provide the respite care you need to get a break and improve both you and your loved one’s lifestyle.