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There are a number of options for respite care, including day care centres, home care and support and respite care in care homes.

On this page you can find information about the different types of respite care that are available, including

1. Day care centres or clubs
2. Home care and support
3. Respite care homes
4. Intermediate care
5. Holidays
6. Friends and family

Day care centres or clubs

“Phoebe went to a day centre two or three times a week and I took those opportunities to do things locally, such as studying and being very active in my neighbourhood.” Hubert's story

Day care centres or clubs are usually run by councils or local charities, such as Age UK. Your relative can attend regularly – usually one or two days a week – to socialise and take part in activities. 

Transport to and from the day centre is usually provided. Centres might provide specialist care, such as facilities for wheelchair users, people with poor sight or support for people with dementia. Use our Care services directory to find local support groups for people living with dementia.

Domiciliary care

If you usually provide substantial care to anyone, including a relative, it may be possible to arrange for domiciliary care services to help out. This might be on a regular basis (for example, one day a week so that you can have a day off) or for a short period, such as a week, so that you can take a holiday. Other home care options are:

  • 24-hour live-in care, which can be arranged in an emergency or to provide a regular break for a carer.  Suitable accommodation must be available and this is seldom funded by local authorities. See the UK Homecare Association for more details.
  • Night time care, which can enable a full-time carer to get some sleep for one or two nights a week. In the case of terminal illness, this care can sometimes be provided by Macmillan or Marie Curie nurses (see Useful organisations and websites).
  • Assistive technology, where home activity monitors and telehealth devices can offer peace of mind by helping people to be safer at home for longer without a carer. For more information, see in Staying independent at home on the main Which? website.

To find out more about your options for care support at home, see our guide Domiciliary care.

Respite care homes

Your relative may be able to go into residential care for a short period if their main carer is unavailable or if they are ill and require specialist care, for example, recovering from an operation or need end of life care.

NHS intermediate care

Intermediate care is free care and support at home for up to six weeks following a stay in hospital or to prevent admission to hospital (for more information.


Some organisations offer respite holidays specifically for older or disabled people, and/or their carers.

Friends and family 

If you have siblings or other close relatives, could they share caring responsibilities with you? Maybe they could take care of your relative for a regular day a week? Or look after them for a week or two while you go on holiday? This could also be an opportunity for your relative to spend quality time with other family members.

More information

Page last reviewed: October 2017