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What is Respite Care & When Should you Use a Respite Home?

November 15th 2023

Caring for a relative full-time can be an extremely exhausting, daunting and lonely challenge, leaving you with little time for anything other than being dedicated to your loved one.

The role of a being a carer never has a “clocking off” time, and in more instances than not, your relative's care needs will be a long-term or lifetime circumstance – leaving you with no time for self-care, little time for other family and almost no time to focus on a career path.


Respite care is an indispensable escape that provides both you as a carer and your loved one with a much-needed rest and recuperation break.


If this is a relatively new situation for you, you might be thinking, “What is respite care?”


What is Respite Care?

Respite services provide users with a temporary and short-term residential stay in a respite care home. The temporary placements usually last for two weeks, sometimes shorter or longer depending on each unique case. The idea of respite care is to offer some relief for the full-time care provider, and sometimes the service user themselves.

Residential respite care can be pre-planned in advance or arranged at short notice or even immediately in cases of emergency. The short-term care enables you to have some time to relax and regroup after what might have been a very demanding few weeks or months, while still having the reassurance that your loved one is in safe hands and being well looked after.  

One thing many carers experience at the time of seeking respite is the feeling of guilt. Never feel guilty for NEEDING a break. Utilising a respite residential care home doesn’t mean you care any less. Being a full-time caregiver is very taxing and selfless, and without this necessary break, your own physical and mental health could begin to take its toll, and that won’t be beneficial for yourself or your loved one.


When Should You Use a Respite Home?

Respite care might also become a necessity that is unavoidable if a carer is unable to offer the support that is required. This could be for a number of reasons for example, if the carer has to undergo an operation or is on holiday. Here are some other examples of  when respite care should be considered:

  • In the event of or to avoid carer burnout - The primary caregiver may be experiencing physical or emotional exhaustion from continuous caregiving responsibilities. In this case, the carer needs a temporary break to recharge and take care of their own well-being. Proactive use of respite care can help to prevent stress and burnout for the carer before it reaches a critical level. Regular carer breaks can contribute to sustained high-quality care over the long term.
  • Special occasions and events - if you’re planning to attend special events or occasions, providing care may be challenging. Respite care allows you to participate in important gatherings without compromising the well-being of the person being cared for.
  • To encourage social interaction - Respite care can offer social engagement and activities for your loved one, promoting mental stimulation and preventing isolation.
  • In the event of an emergency - Unforeseen circumstances, such as a family emergency or sudden health issue of the caregiver, may require temporary care outside the home.
  • To “test the waters” - Some families may use respite care as a trial period for a family member who is resistant to the idea of full-time residential care. It provides an opportunity to assess how well your loved one adjusts to a new environment and routine.


How Long Can Respite Care Last?

The duration of respite care can vary based on individual circumstances and needs. Respite care periods can range from a few hours to several weeks, accommodating short breaks for carers or longer periods to address specific situations such as recovery from medical procedures or planned holidays. The length of respite care is typically determined by the carer's requirements, the health condition of the individual in care, and the goals of the respite arrangement. The family of the person in care and respite care home need to agree on a suitable time frame that aligns with the well-being and preferences of both the carer and the loved one being cared for.


Benefits of Respite Care Homes for Your Loved One

It isn't just the carer that benefits from nursing homes that offer respite, the service user may also find themselves more relaxed and refreshed after a short-term stint in a residential care home. Here is a tiny insight into some of the benefits your loved one might experience during respite care are;


  • Have the opportunity to socialise with others going through similar life experiences.
  • New faces and new conversations can help to stimulate the brain
  • A change of scenery and the chance to partake in fun activities and day trips with friends can heighten their mood significantly
  • They have the opportunity to get used to the care home environment and the activities in preparation for what might become full-time residential care 

Benefits of Respite Care for you, the Carer

Having just a few hours to yourself goes a long way in ensuring that you are both physically and mentally able to care for a loved one around the clock, which is why respite is highly endorsed when you sense yourself becoming exhausted or emotionally drained. Some of the benefits for a carer using residential respite care for a loved one include:

  • Renewed energy! When you are stressed and worn out, the quality of care that you can offer will severely decline, but so will all other aspects of your personal life
  • You might have a family of your own, a partner or children, and they might feel pushed aside when you become a full-time carer. This respite period will give you a chance to reconnect and let them know the family bond is still strong
  • You get to enjoy your social life again, whether that is playing sports, taking part in lifelong hobbies or meeting up with friends - all of these factors make a huge difference to your internal happiness and mental health

What to Expect When Utilising Respite Homes

Select Healthcare hopes to make all respite and assisted living facilities as homely as possible for our residents and service users. When your loved one comes to us for respite care, we focus on making them as comfortable as possible first of all, and then we work to involve them in regular activities to stimulate the mind and body. We also strongly encourage as much social interaction as possible between our care workers and our residents. 

We like to keep a sense of togetherness in our residential respite homes, which includes mealtimes in the dining rooms, lively social gatherings in our lounge, regular excursions and we host special events for holidays such as Christmas, Easter and Halloween so your loved one will never miss out. 


Arranging respite residential care 

Although we have spoken mainly about respite care in the environment of a residential home, respite services are offered in other forms such as in day-centres, elderly home care and respite holidays, although residential respite care is the most common and most effective. 

Many of our Select Healthcare care homes can accept respite bookings at short notice for any emergency cases, but if you are looking to book a short-term stay at one of our respite care homes, you can use our website to locate respite services in your local area. In most cases, your local council will provide full or part-funding for respite care services, but it is also possible to fund this care yourself if you so wish. 


If you have any questions about the respite care provided by Select Healthcare, or if you want to book your loved one into your local Select care home, please contact us on 01384 217 900, or use our online enquiry forms and we will be more than happy to assist. 


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