If you are choosing respite care, there are some things you should do before making a decision on the provider. You can download the list below at the bottom of this page.

Contracts and small print

When arranging residential or domiciliary respite care you should be given a contract stating the details of care and any other terms and conditions. This should include information about notice periods, cancellation clauses and (if applicable) bank holiday payments. It is important to read this carefully before signing. If you are not offered a written contract make sure you ask for one.

  • Assessment: get a local authority assessment for professional advice about the type of respite care needed. Both the carer and the cared-for person should have an assessment to make sure that nothing is missed.
  • Clarify funding in advance: get a local authority means test to see if you are eligible for help with funding, so you know what your options are. See Financing respite care for more information about this.
  • Find out costs: before making any decisions, find out what costs are involved. Some day centres charge for attendance and might charge extra for transport and meals. See also Financing respite care for more detailed information.
  • Ensure you make decisions jointly: any decisions about respite care should be made with your relative, wherever possible. Talk to them about their preferences and discuss the options. Explain why the respite care is needed and what is involved.
  • Specific needs: make sure that any day centres or respite care can accommodate your relative’s needs. For example, if your relative is in a wheelchair, make sure that the chosen day centre is accessible. Or, if your relative has dementia, make sure that any staff employed to take care of them have the necessary experience and training to deal with this.
  • Consider your relative’s interests: if you are trying to arrange day care or a short break for your relative, talk together about what they would enjoy. Try to match clubs to their hobbies and interests.
  • Visit potential respite providers: before making any decisions, try to visit the day centres or care homes on your shortlist to get an idea of what they are like. If possible, take your relative with you and make sure they understand what is going on. If you are arranging emergency respite care, there may not always be time to visit.
  • Check the room: if you are considering residential respite care, ask to take a look at the particular room your relative might stay in as well as any communal areas.
  • Background checks: make a background check by checking the Care Quality Commission (or relevant regulatory body in your country) for information about the care provider. For contact details, see Useful organisations and websites.
  • Meet prospective carers: if possible, try to meet any carers that might provide care while you are away. Make sure that you and your relative are happy with them.
  • Plan ahead: it’s worth thinking about respite care in advance of when it’s needed, just in case you need to find care at short notice. Know who you would call in an emergency.

Downloadable checklist

Use the link below to download our checklist for choosing respite care.

More information

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