Caring for someone can be exhausting work, especially if you’re their only help. More often than not, a carer is someone’s friend or family member who feels obliged to look after their loved one. However, it’s extremely important to recognise the important job you’re doing, and the fact that both you and whoever you care for may need a break from routine occasionally.
In the UK, there are a number of ways that you can access respite care, whether it’s for a few hours or a short holiday. You can normally get this by having a carer’s assessment so that health professionals can recommend that a break is required.
Replacement and Respite Care
Replacement and respite care is specifically designed to replace the normal care that you would normally provide. This cover might be needed if you’ve got to look after yourself for once; for example, overnight respite might be offered so you can catch up on sleep. However, it often goes further than this, and local authorities may offer temporary care for a longer period of time. You should contact your local council for advice and support on such a matter.
Longer Respite Breaks
As part of your support plan, your carer’s assessment might highlight the need for you to have a break. In many cases, local authorities will actually provide some funds towards this, giving a small carers holiday grant that you can use. A support plan will be drawn up if you’re eligible for a grant, and you can use this to hire a care worker whilst you enjoy some leisure time. Alternatively, you might be able to use the Short Breaks Network to find a supported holiday for both you and the person you’re caring for.
Aside from direct payments, there are also several other was to help fund carers holidays.
- Local Authority Replacement Care
In the first instance, it’s a good idea to see if your local council can help, either by offering respite grants or arranging replacement services. In the case of vouchers, these can often be used to pay for short residential home stays or care agency costs. You might also be able to use the grants towards holiday-associated expenses such as an increase in homecare services or the use of live-in care workers.
If any replacement care is identified as essential homecare it is normally considered as care for the vulnerable individual and, as such, is charged to them and not you as a carer. Though not paying for your holiday, it means you won’t have to worry about paying for replacement care whilst you’re gone.
- Charities and Benevolent Funding
Many charitable organisations strongly recognise the important work that carers do. As a result, they may be able to help cover the costs of going on holiday. To get more advice on this, it’s best to talk to GPs, health visitors, social workers and your local carer support groups as they can point you in the direction of the right organisations.
Some of the best known funding is supplied by groups like the Family Fund, Saga Respite for Carers Trust, the Children’s Country Holiday Fund and the Family Holiday Association. Whilst Saga offer carers breaks for those over 50, the Children’s Country Holiday Fund helps those at the other end of the generational gap; carers between 6 and 16. Meanwhile, the Family Fund can help with holiday expenses for families caring for a severely disabled child, whilst the Family Holiday Association helps low-income families have a break.
- Low-Cost Holidays and Bursaries
Some charities also provide bursaries and low-cost family holidays to carers needing to take a break from everyday life. Diabetes UK, for example, offer a bursary for low-income families unable to afford travel costs, whilst Saga hosts a variety of cheap breaks ideal for carers, both for single travellers and those going away as a group. Turn2us, meanwhile, provides a range of financial support to all manner of people depending on their circumstances and needs.
Take Advantage of Leisure Cards
Many councils across the UK offer leisure cards, normally available to those receiving benefits, people over 60 and those in full-time education. If you’re a carer with a low income, you may well qualify for one of these discount cards. Though not paying for a break away, they can help with the costs of excursions. For example, discounts are normally between 10 and 50 percent for services like beauty salons, theatres or cinemas. There’s sometimes a small charge of between £1 and £15 for the card itself, but once you have it you can make all manner of discounts on everyday leisure activities.
Taking a break from your caring role is extremely important, and regardless of whether you go on holiday by yourself or with the person you care for, you’ll get a chance to refuel your batteries; an essential part of providing the best care to someone. If you’re worried about the costs of taking a break; don’t be. There are many organisations that could provide help on top of local authority funding, so take advantage of the support and plan your next break today.