How do I find the most suitable respite care near me?

Written by Zenya Smith25/07/23


Arrange care

What is respite care? 

Respite care is a temporary form of care that allows carers to take a break. Allowing someone else to take over care duties for a short period of time – whether that be a few hours, a few days or a few weeks can be beneficial for everyone. No matter which type you choose,  Respite services give regular carers time away to rest and unwind and give those receiving care an opportunity to spend time with new people and experience new things.

What do I need to consider when arranging respite care?

The types of respite care

There is a surprisingly wide range of respite options available in the UK. Often, people assume the best course of action is to move into a residential home for a period of temporary care, but there are other respite care options to consider too – 

Home care – This involves getting a professional carer to provide support in your or your loved one’s own home. This can be through regular domiciliary care visits or a short period of live-in care. 

Intermediate care – If you need ongoing support after leaving the hospital, the NHS may offer up to 6 weeks of care for free.

Friends and family – If you’re a primary carer for a loved one, other members of the family or close friends may be able to take over to give you a break from time to time. 

Day care centres  – day centres provide elderly people with both practical support and the opportunity to connect with others. They often arrange activities like crafts, quizzes and exercise classes, and can provide short breaks for carers throughout the week. 

Befriending services – for people who just need some company, befriending services can offer anything from a weekly phone call to regular home visits. 

Your budget for respite care 

As well as deciding on the most suitable type of respite care, it’s important to consider early on how much care you’ll need, and how much this is likely to cost. This is doubly important if you’re planning to use your time away from caring to go on holiday, as you’ll need to factor in care costs on top of the cost of the holiday.  

Some respite care services come with a higher price tag depending on where you live. For example, residential care is generally cheaper in the North of England, while homes in London and the South East may come at a premium. 

If you’re caring for a loved one yourself, there are some charities and trusts in the UK that help people like you with the cost of respite care or provide free services for people with low-level care needs. 

The Carers Trust, a charity supporting unpaid carers across the UK, may offer a grant towards your respite care costs. You’ll need to contact your local Carers Trust to find out if you’re likely to be eligible, and how to apply. 

You can also use Turn2us grant search tool on their website. The national financial support charity has brought together details of over 3000 funds from across the UK. 

The Victoria Convalescent Trust (VCT) provides both full and partial grants to fund short-term breaks for people living in England and Wales who need respite care. You’ll need a health or social professional to apply on your behalf and how much you receive, if you meet the eligibility criteria, will depend on your individual circumstances and care needs. 

And, if you’re in Scotland, it’s worth taking a look at Shared Care. The charity provides lots of resources and support to family carers, and may be able to connect you to a charity or grant scheme to help you take a break from care. 

You or your loved one may also be eligible for support from your local council or the NHS. to help cover the costs of respite care.

If your loved one is fairly self-sufficient and only really needs some companionship, or an occasional hand with the shopping or getting out and about, a befriending service may be suitable while you’re away.  Befriending services are delivered by local volunteers to help older or vulnerable people stay connected to the outside world and make new friends. Befrienders are unable to provide care.

Again, where you live will be a factor in whether there are suitable befriending services in your area. Most free programmes are run by local charities. If demand is high there may be limited availability or a long waiting list. 

A young woman showing her elderly mother a video on her smartphone. the two are sat at a cosy breakfast table.

Questions to ask when looking for respite care 

Respite care homes 

If you’re considering a care home offering respite care, you may find the following questions useful – 

  • If a local home isn’t available, how far away would you be comfortable with? 
  • -How quickly can care be put in place? Is there a waiting list? 
  • How long does the assessment process take, and what’s involved?
  • Does the home offer a trial visit or tour beforehand?
  • -Is there a minimum number of days or weeks of respite care you’d be required to book? 
  • Is there a choice of activities on offer, do these match up with your or your loved ones’ interests?
  • What’s included in the fee and what’s not – i.e. do certain activities or support services cost extra? 
  • What are the communal living spaces like? Is there space and opportunity for quiet or private time too? 
  • Can other family members or friends come and visit?


Home-based or live-in respite care

If you or a loved one would prefer to stay at home, you may find the following questions useful when choosing a care provider –

  • Would you prefer a local respite carer who’s already familiar with the local area and amenities?
  • What services do the agencies covering your area provide and are they suitable for your needs? e.g. will occasional care visits provide enough support and peace of mind, or would you need someone to move in and be there 24/7?
  • Do you want the service completely managed by a care provider, or would you like to retain some control over how care is delivered?
  • How quickly can they provide respite care? do they need a few weeks to source the right carers for your needs?
  • Is there a minimum number of days or weeks of respite care you’d be required to book?
  • Do you get to choose who the carer is, or meet or chat with them beforehand?
  • What’s the continuity of care like? Will there be a dedicated carer or a staff of different carers? 
  • Can they give you a transparent overview of costs, are there any additional fees not included in the main rate, such as joining fees or surcharges over busy periods like bank holidays?
  • What daily activities can the respite carer help with? 
  • If you or your loved one needs assistance with personal care – what can be done to make this more comfortable? 


Will a break from caring affect the benefits I’m receiving?

As a carer you may be receiving Carer’s Allowance, and this won’t stop if you take a break and drop below the 35-hours-a-week threshold. 

As a carer, you can stop caring and take holidays for up to 28 days a year.

If the person you’re caring for is admitted to the hospital or requires respite care for more than 12 weeks, you’ll need to inform the Department of Work and Pensions and may lose your eligibility for Carers Allowance. 


Read more about arranging care

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