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Respite - having a break from caring

"The few hours off make all the difference"


  • §Looking after someone can be very demanding. At times you will need a break, not only from daily chores, but also from the person you are caring for. This is called respite care.

  • §Carers often feel guilty about having a break. However, this will help to reduce stress levels and maintain physical and emotional health. It will also improve the caring relationship by introducing variety and stimulation, and ensure neither carer or cared for become socially isolated.

  • §Respite care may range from someone occasionally sitting with the person cared for, to their regular attendance at a day centre or club, to their going into a nursing home for a short stay.

  • §Friends and family are usually happy to help, provided that they do not feel unreasonable demands are placed on them. They may be able to spend a few hours regularly with the person cared for, or have them to stay for a weekend now and then. Help with household chores, such as ironing, laundry, or hoovering, or help with shopping or collecting prescriptions may reduce the burden on carers indirectly.

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  • §Day centres provide a safe environment away from home for a few hours. Transport and lunch are usually supplied and other services such as hairdressing, chiropody and bathing are sometimes available. Some centres may not be able to manage more dependent people.

  • §In some areas, the local day hospital may be able to provide patients with regular rehabilitation sessions and address any medical and nursing needs, whilst also providing respite for the carer.

  • §Sitting services or voluntary helpers may provide general care and supervision for a few hours, or overnight. Some organisations may be able to arrange outings, or other activities depending on the needs of the person you are looking after.

  • §Holidays that cater specifically for the needs of dependant people can be arranged, either for the person alone, or for you both together.

Information about locally available respite care services can be obtained  through the social services department (or sometimes through the family doctor or hospital service when the patient’s medical problems are more severe). Cost and availability vary from area to area.

Carers UK publishes a booklet on ‘Taking a Break’ and can contacted on 0808 808 7777 ( http://www.carersonline.org.uk)

The Parkinson’s Disease Society (tel 020 7931 8080)  can provide information about holidays for people with PD. ( http://www.parkinsons.org.uk)

The Crossroads Association (tel:  0845 450 0350; http://www.crossroads.org.uk)  provides practical support to give carers time to themselves.

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This site has been established for the dissemination of information. While every effort is made to ensure that information on this site is accurate and current we accept no liability for any omissions or inaccuracies that may have crept in. If in any doubt please contact your doctor for further advice.

Last Modified 13 August 2004
Maintained by Matthew Harris