According to the UK Government’s 2018/19 Family Resources Survey , around 7% of the population provide unpaid care. This means that they look after a loved one to provide medical, social and logistical support on a voluntary basis. This task can be extremely tiring, both mentally and physically, especially if it is done without the chance to take a break. So, being able to access respite care for elderly could be a real lifeline to many people in this difficult situation. The issue is, how you find the most appropriate respite care for elderly. This can be easier said than done.
What is respite care?
It is important that the regular carers who provide essential support for someone else receive support themselves. This stops them burning out and enables them to resume their caring duties feeling refreshed. Respite care provides a break from caring, as well as a change of scene for the person being looked after. The service comes in different forms.
Respite care is temporary care where the respite carer comes and replaces the regular carer for some time. Residential respite care offers temporary accommodation at a care home or similar facility where the person can be cared for safely and enjoy the activities on offer. Alternatively, a respite care provider can take the place of the usual carer to retain familiarity and normal routines as much as possible. This then allows the usual carer to take a few days’ holiday or focus on different activities around the house.
Respite care for elderly choices
Respite care for elderly can last for different periods of time too. Sometimes, a volunteer or professional carer can come and sit with the person being looked after for a while. This gives older people someone new to talk to and share stories with. They are also kept safe because the volunteer keeps an eye on them while they are there . They can also help with any issues that crop up.
Alternatively, the person can attend a day centre for a morning, afternoon or whole day. Transport to and from the premises is normally arranged as part of the service but there can be a charge for this. Once at the day centre, the person can take part in organised activities, go on day trips and enjoy a change of scene.
At the other end of the scale, residential respite care for elderly placements can last for several weeks or even months, depending on the needs of the person in question. The person is allocated a room and can bring possessions, clothes etc with them. This can be arranged as a one-off or as a regular thing. One option could be booking respite care for elderly for the same week or fortnight every year to give a sense of routine.
How to access respite care
The process normally starts with an assessment of the person needing care and their wider situation. This could include care needs, medical prognosis, mental capabilities and financial resources. This is called a ‘needs assessment’ and is done by the local council as a rule. The carer will also be reviewed in a separate ‘carer’s assessment’ to ensure that their needs are also met.
Even if the person doesn’t require, or is not eligible for council funding for respite care for elderly, these assessments are still important to do. This is because they give a fuller picture of the individual situation and what needs to be done to help everyone carry on as normal. It will also help identify what type of respite care for elderly is the most suitable. The council’s social care department is the first port of call to set the wheels in motion for respite care assessments or for more information.
There are also a number of charities in the UK that can advise on how to find respite care. These include:
· Age UK
Caring for the carer
Once respite care has been arranged, it is up to each friend, family or individual how to make the most of the time that is ‘freed up’. It can be tempting to take on large tasks that have been neglected, for instance DIY, decluttering or house maintenance. It is important to remember, however, that respite care for elderly is for the carer to rest and recharge their batteries. At the same time, being reassured that their loved one is being cared for elsewhere or by someone else for a while.
Find ways to relax amongst any jobs that absolutely must get done. Book a few days away, perhaps at a spa or to visit friends. Go to the hairdresser, gym or beautician for some pampering. Indulge in a favorite sport or pastime that is normally harder to arrange. All of these things can help replenish tired bodies and souls.