Respite care can have positive benefits for both you and your relative. But there are potential difficulties that need to be considered. Here we highlight the pros and cons.

The benefits of respite care

  • A well-earned break for carers from the day-to-day responsibilities of caring.
  • Time for carers to focus on their children, jobs, home and personal health and wellbeing.
  • A holiday or a trip to a relative’s house can provide a welcome change of scenery for your relative, particularly if they are stuck at home most of the time.
  • Specialist care can be given to suit your relative’s needs.
  • Help with funding is available in many cases.
  • An opportunity to introduce alternative services or carers that may be needed in the future (for example, if the situation  deteriorates or an emergency occurs).

The drawbacks of respite care

  • It can be difficult for carers to admit that they need or want time off.
  • It might be difficult for some people, particularly those with dementia/Alzheimer’s to deal with changes to routine. In some cases, it might be easier for them to remain at home, with a substitute carer, than to move somewhere else.
  • There may be additional respite care costs to consider that aren’t covered by local authority funding.
  • Availability for respite care may be limited in some areas.
  • There might be waiting lists for respite care.
  • Care homes may not have space to accommodate short-term stays, particularly at short notice.
  • Some benefits, such as carer’s allowance may be affected if you take breaks over a certain amount of time.
  • The person being cared for may reject alternative forms of care.
  • The person being cared for may become depressed or agitated if not being looked after by their usual carer.

More information

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