Respite care, in the form of day centres, domiciliary care or residential care, might be provided by local councils, private companies or charities.

What’s available to you and your relative will depend on where you live, your financial situation and your relative’s health and care needs.

On this page you can find the information you need to arrange respite care, including:

1. Your respite care options
2. Arranging respite care in a care home
3. Arranging respite care at home
4. Organising family and friends to help
5. Local authority assessments

What are your respite care options?

For you as carer: following a carer’s assessment the local authority might decide that you need support to help you to continue caring. This might involve:

  • respite care to give you a break from your caring role (for example, a sit-in service, day care, or a short-term placement in a care home for your relative)
  • respite care vouchers for short breaks
  • activities for the person you care for
  • trips, a respite holiday or special events for you the carer.

It might also offer to fund other carer support services such as getting emotional support from other carers or people who understand your situation. You might access this by attending a local carers’ group.

For people that need care: following a care needs assessment, the local authority might recommend respite care for your relative, such as:

Arranging respite care in a care home

To find care homes that offer respite care in your relative’s area you could:

See Choosing a care home for further helpful advice on this topic, together with our checklists on Considerations when visiting a care home.

It is possible to arrange for someone else to care for your relative at home while you take a break. This alternative carer might come in for a couple of weeks while you go on holiday, or one regular day a week. They can even stay with your relative overnight if they need 24-hour supervision.

Arranging respite care at home

To find a respite homecare provider you could do any of the following.

“My advice to other people arranging respite care is to be robust with the authorities without being rude. You’ve got to have evidence.” Ken’s story

  • Contact local charities, such as the Royal Voluntary Society (RVS), Age UK, Macmillan or Marie Curie, who may be able to help with respite care at home. See Useful organisations and websites for contact details.
  • Contact a homecare agency about a live-in carer: to find home care providers in your relative’s area, enter his or her postcode in our Care services directory and filter to show domiciliary care.
  • Employ a private carer to look after your relative. However, there are lots of things to think about for this option: see Live-in care
  • Arrange a respite holiday: some organisations offer holidays specifically for elderly or disabled people, and/or their carers.

Organising friends and family to help

Family and friends can provide respite care, either by coming to your relative’s house or having your relative to stay with them for a short period.

If your relative is considering staying somewhere else, think about the property they’ll be going to. If they have mobility issues, for example:

  •  Is the property suitable for their needs? 
  • How will they get there and back?

If you plan to ask another family member or a friend to share caring responsibilities, make sure that the person needing care is willing to accept the arrangements. Is there one family member that they would prefer to stay with than another?

Local authority assessments

Before making any arrangements for respite care, it is important to get a local authority assessment, if you haven’t had one already. Your relative should have a needs assessment and if you or another person is providing substantial and regular amounts of care, a carer's assessment is available.

These give a professional assessment of your situation and the type of respite care that you and your relative need. 

They are also important because local authorities will only fund respite care for people that they have assessed as needing it.

Following the assessments the local authority might decide that the carer needs to take a break from caring, or that the cared-for person needs specialist respite care. It should detail its recommendations for each person in a written care plan. For more information about funding, see Financing respite care.

More information

Page last reviewed: 31 August 2015
Next review due: 30 November 2016