Everyone deserves a break from time to time and carers and people with illnesses and disabilities should be no exception. There are a number of choices available for respite holidays – from specialist centres that provide holidays for people needing care, to breaks for carers.

Here we explain the options for taking a break from caring, whether that is a holiday with the person you care for, or a little time apart.  

1. What is a respite holiday?
2. Choosing a respite holiday
3. Things to consider
4. Financing a respite holiday

What is a respite holiday?

Respite holidays allow people with illnesses or disabilities, and/or their carers, to take a break from everyday life.

There are three main options:

  • Breaks for carers: you take a holiday while your relative stays in a care home, or is cared for by someone else, for a short time.
  • Respite holidays with care: the person you are caring for goes on holiday to a specialist centre that can provide the care and support they need.
  • Holidays together: if you care for a partner, or other elderly relative, you might want to take a holiday together.

Choosing a respite holiday

There are lots of different options and only you and your family can decide what is best for you. Here are some of the choices available to you.

Breaks for carers

Caring for someone full time can be very demanding – both physically and emotionally – so it’s perfectly natural that you’ll need some time apart every now and then to recharge your batteries.

You might want to take a holiday with family or friends, or alone. Either way you’ll need to find alternative care for your loved one while you are away. 

Some organisations offer holidays especially for carers. The Saga Respite for Carers Trust is a charity that offers holidays to unpaid carers over 50. It funds a holiday for the carer and a friend, plus spending money and the cost of professional respite care for their relative. To find out more, nominate yourself or someone else. Take a look at the Saga website

Carers Holidays brings together a selection of holiday accommodation in the UK and abroad. They offer discounts of 5–30% for carers. Holidays are designed for carers and their friends or families to have an affordable break either with or without the person they care for.

Finding replacement care

If you need a break from caring you might be able to arrange for your relative to be taken care of by other friends and family, in a care home, or through care at home services. 

Most care homes focus on long-term residential care, only offering the occasional respite space at short notice. This can make it difficult to plan breaks ahead of time.

But some care homes specialise in short-term respite care and will take advance reservations. Use our Care services directory to find care homes in your area and you can then explore respite care options with those you like the look of.

Respite holidays with care

Respite holidays offer specialist accommodation, travel and activities for people with illnesses or disabilities. They usually offer care and support in accessible surroundings so that your relative can relax and enjoy themselves in a holiday setting, while you can have peace of mind that they are being taken care of.

Richmond Retreats are luxury village resorts in the UK, run by Bupa, that offer respite breaks with bespoke care options. See their website for more details.

Holidays together

You might want to arrange your own holiday with the person you care for. If they have mobility problems you’ll want to find accessible accommodation.

Tourism for All is a UK charity that offers advice and information about accessible holidays both in the UK and abroad.

Some companies offer specialist respite holidays for people with disabilities and their carers/family too. Your relative can get the care and support that they need, and you’ll be able to enjoy your time together more if there is someone to help with your caring duties. A change of scenery and a break from routine could do you both the world of good.

Carers Holidays brings together a selection of properties/holidays in the UK and abroad, which have a wide range of accessibility features. Holidays are designed for carers and their friends and/or families to have an affordable break either with or without the person they care for.

The Holiday Homes Trust provides affordable holidays for families, carers or groups who have a member with a disability, physical, mental, or age-related illness. Their centres are located at popular holiday sites with specially adapted accommodation for all families with a special need, and low-income or single-parent families.

MindforYou offer supported holidays in the UK for people who are living with dementia and their carers to enjoy together.

Revitalise offers holidays for people with illnesses and disabilities, and their carers, at a choice of three centres in the UK. It runs lots of excursions and activities and you can tailor breaks around your interests, such as culture, art or music. They offer special weeks for people with dementia.

For more information about accessible holidays and respite breaks take a look at the Holidays for All website. It lists a large number of accessible holiday providers that provide respite breaks and holidays.

Things to consider

Is the holiday for you, your relative or both of you together?

If you plan to travel without the person you care for, check out respite care options.

If your relative is travelling with you:

  • Check if you are eligible for any help with funding respite care
  • Some centres will take larger groups so you could go with other family members too
  • Different holidays have different levels of care available - make sure that the centre you have chosen can cater for your relative’s needs
  • How far away is the centre and how would you get there? How long a journey could your relative cope with?
  • Don’t forget to cancel any homecare and support services while your relative is away.
  • Do you have adequate travel insurance cover?

Financing a respite holiday

It might be the case that your local authority will contribute towards respite care following a need's and financial assessment of your relative or a carer's assessment of your own needs. The outcome of these assessments might determine that the person being cared for needs short-term respite care, or the person caring for them needs a break from caring.

More information

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