Post No32…3 important reasons why carers seek respite care

Post No32…3 important reasons why carers seek respite care
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina 🇺🇦 / Unsplash


Respite care is a vital service for carers, it gives people the chance to take breaks and revitalise, both of which are of great importance to the carer and the person they care for.

In this post, I want to look at the three main reasons why people seek respite care, and why each reason is important.

1) Breaks for Carers

When people think of respite care they are normally thinking about taking a break, and in this case, it is the carer who is having the break, even though it is the person they care for who is technically having respite care.

We all know that the stress of daily life can get on top of us both mentally and physically, and often we need to take a step back to help unwind and minimise stress. Catching up on sleep, visiting friends, family and having some time to yourself are good ways for people to be the best they can be.

Some care homes or domicilary providers run respite booking systems, where carers can book a place in advance of the stay which helps when booking holidays. From my experience running respite booking systems, they tend to work best in a care home that still has plentiful supply, but are much harder to provide if supply of rooms is limited.

However, the booking system allows better opportunities for future planning and gives the carer something to look forward to, and is worth enquiring about. In some cases, where the booking system is being offered, carers can plan for regular breaks for the benefit of their wellbeing.

Even if a booking system is not being offered, most purpose-built care homes will have availability for respite care due to the number of beds they have, whereas smaller independent homes tend to be full and are seldom able to offer respite.

Did you know? Respite care can sometimes be more expensive than long term care 

2) Convalescent care

Convalescent care is extremely common, and is often linked to a person who has been previously admitted to hospital. When a person is deemed medically fit to leave a hospital (meaning there is no further clinical involvement) this does not always mean that they are well enough to go back home, it just means they are no longer needing hospital treatment.

In some cases, the gap between being ready to leave hospital but not ready to be at home is covered by the D2A pathway, but private respite care can be used to the same effect.

In these instances, the patient will move directly from the hospital into a care setting, usually a care home. The purpose of the stay is to enable an ongoing assessment of the person and their recovery, implementing any required services such as physio, and giving the family time to consider and arrange what happens next.

This is very useful as it offers families the chance to understand the persons care needs, which may have increased following a hospital admission. If a person goes to hospital due to a bad fall and subsequently spends several weeks in bed, their mobility may be very different to what it was. By having convalescent care in a care home, families have the time they need to assess the situation and thus come up with solutions, a feat which is much more difficult in a hospital setting.

Top Tip - When considering convalescent care, try and use the same home you would choose for long term care

3) A Trial

When it comes to longer term care planning, understanding which care home is the correct one, and whether it is the right time, are two difficult aspects of what is a very tough decision. Hence, and again quite common, is the request for a trial respite stay.

This can work well in many ways, often people are unsure or resistant to moving into a care home, but the trial stay offers them the chance to try it out before fully committing. It also gives the family an opportunity to take a step back and reflect on their decision.

For those seeking respite care as a trial shift, my advice would be to consider a 4 week stay to enable the person adequate time to settle in. If the trial period is too short, then the desired outcome (is it the right home?) may remain unknown to the family, essentially meaning the trial has not been effective in determining the required answers.

A respite trial also enables families to get to know the care home, including the staff, and to come to terms with the emotional decision they have made. In many ways this is equally as important as the person settling in the care home, because the trial needs to satisfy both the resident and the family in its success, or failure.

If a person is on respite for a trial, it is often very easy to migrate them onto a long-term care contract at the end of the respite stay.

Top Tip - 4-6 weeks is the best time frame for trial respite stays in a care home


There are of course other reasons why people seek respite care, but these three are the by far the most common. All three are important for different reasons, but they share a common theme in that they provide time to carers and families to take breaks, or to make future plans regarding longer term care.

If you are caring for someone at home and are getting burnt out, speak to either a care home or domicilary provider about respite care, and try (if you can) not to feel too guilty about doing so; its very normal to need a break, and is a very, very common request in the world of care homes.

The Care Whisperer says 'carers both deserve but also need breaks, don't feel guilty about making an enquiry for respite care'

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