A carers guide to respite care
Providing care for a loved one requires a lot of dedication, selflessness, and commitment. For most it’s a job that offers a huge sense of reward, providing you and your loved one with a reassuring familiarity.
However, full time caring can also be demanding for carers, both mentally and physically. After all, when you spend so much time thinking about the needs of someone else, it can be easy to let your own slip, and it’s common for many carers to feel stressed, overtired, or burnt out.
That’s why every now and again, taking a step back from full time caring and making some time for you is so important. Services like respite care, where a loved one can receive temporary care at an Anchor residential care home, can be incredibly valuable to carers who feel they need a break.
What is respite care?
Also known as a short care break, respite care allows a person to stay at a care home on a temporary basis. Depending on the circumstances and an individual’s needs, a respite stay can range from a few days to a few weeks, and can be arranged on a recurring or one off basis.
When is respite care appropriate?
Respite care can be arranged for a range of reasons, covering a variety of planned or unplanned circumstances.
It could be that a carer is temporarily unavailable to provide care and that emergency respite care is needed; for example if they need to take time away for an operation, a hospital stay, or due to illness.
Carers can also arrange short care breaks to coincide with holidays, where a relative may not want to join, or may be unable to join them.
Respite care is also beneficial for carers who may just want a short break from full time care, whether this is to spend more time focusing on another area of life, or simply to recharge.
If the carer is aware they will need to be away, then a respite stay can be arranged with a care home in advance. However, if needed respite stays may also be arranged on a short notice emergency basis if a carer is away unexpectedly, or for longer than expected.
Some people benefit from arranging a recurring respite stay for a loved one, where a relative stays in a home for a pre-planned amount of time on a regular basis. This allows both the carer and loved one a regular break, and affords each some valuable time to themselves and a sense of independence from one another.
In some care homes respite can also be arranged as a day care service, where visitors can attend a home for a few hours a day. As well as giving carers a break and providing visitors with a change in daily routine, day care can also help visitors feel part of a community and be something to look forward to.
What are the benefits of respite care?
It can sometimes be hard for carers to admit that they need to take a break, but doing so from time to time is important. Without a regular break, the everyday demands of full time care can become too much, which can lead to stress and exhaustion, often called “caregiver burnout”.
Respite for carers can provide a valuable opportunity to momentarily step back from the pressures of day-to-day caregiving. With a temporary break from caring, carers can spend time focusing on family, work, hobbies and personal health and wellbeing.
The break in routine afforded by respite care is equally valuable to those being cared for. Being in receipt of full time care has the potential to be isolating, especially for those who are unable to carry out day to day tasks independently. Short term stays allow visitors the opportunity to meet new people, experience different environments, and take part in a wide range of different activities.
Short term stays are not all the same, and each visitor receives an experience that is tailored to them, regardless of the length of stay. This includes receiving personalised care and support, having the choice of a wide range of activities to take part in, and being able to choose from a carefully planned and regularly updated menu.
Transitioning to full time care
Respite care and short term stays can also provide a good opportunity to become familiar with a care home environment. For carers and relatives, respite care, short term stays, and day care are often the first steps in moving from home care to permanent care home residency.
Moving straight from a family home into care can be a huge transition, both for carers and the person being cared for. However, many find that the process is made much easier when they have experienced respite care first, especially when both parties are familiar with the care home, its team, other residents living there and the facilities available.
If a person decides to become a permanent resident after a short stay in an Anchor care home, many of their care requirements and preferences will already be on file from their respite stay, and this knowledge can help the home’s team support them to settle in more quickly. While most people decide on the same care home for respite care and permanent residency, short term stays can also provide an opportunity to explore a number of different locations. This way, carers and relatives can decide on a home through first-hand experience, and choose the care home that is most suitable for them.