There are an estimated 6.5 million carers in the UK that look after a parent, partner, child or friend. Whilst caring means different things to different people, all carers have one thing in common – the need for an occasional break to recharge their batteries and take a little time out.
Respite breaks for carers allow both the carers and people that they look after to enjoy a break from routine, a change of scene or even take part in a new experience. Whether you are looking to take a holiday, indulge in a favourite hobby, catch up with friends or just have a good old-fashioned rest, the only way you can keep up your good work to the best of your ability is to be kind to yourself on a regular basis.
Firstly, you need to decide what sort of break you need. You might choose to take a holiday yourself and arrange alternative care for the person you’re looking after, or you might choose to stay home yourself whilst your charge enjoys an escape. You might even find that a holiday which caters to both of your needs works like a charm.
If you decide you would like to organise alternative care, there are a few different support services you can approach which will be able to advise you on whether you can expect financial assistance. In England, Wales and Scotland, contact your local council’s social services department; in Northern Ireland, get in touch with your local Health and Social Care Trust. Bear in mind that you and the person you are looking after will undergo a needs assessment in order to access this kind of support.
Whether you choose to take a holiday yourself or go away with the person you care for, it may be possible to get financial support from a charity or benevolent fund. Some sources of assistance include:
The Family Holiday Association – provides grants towards holidays or breaks at holiday sites to families on a low income.
The Children’s Country Holiday Fund – offers countryside respite breaks for young carers aged 6 to 16 as well as for disadvantaged children and young people.
Of course, you could take the arrangements into your own hands and employ a paid worker directly, arrange short-term residential care or organise a trip for the person you are looking after, where all their needs will be met.
Some organisations specialise in respite holidays that carers and the people they look after can take together. Revitalise offers a selection of accessible holidays, complete with excursions and entertainment, that offer 24-hour on-call nursing care as well as plenty of support from lively volunteers. Likewise, Disability Holidays Guide provides a comprehensive list of accommodations around the world which are suitable for people with a range of accessibility needs.
In order to give yourself the peace of mind necessary to truly enjoy your break, a little bit of forethought goes a long way. If you have organised alternative care for the person you usually look after, ensure they have a written plan with all the information they might need to do a good job in your absence. It’s a good idea to detail the procedure which should be followed in case of emergencies, too – just to cover all bases.
Supply a list of contacts just in case the replacement carer needs additional support whilst you are away. This list should include your own number, a doctor and any medical or social care professionals you may liaise with as well as nearby family or friends they can call on if necessary.
Whether you choose to take a break alone or holiday with the person you care for, ensure you book the right travel insurance for your trip. Medical Travel Compared can help you find the right policy for your specific circumstances – we can even find cover for those with pre-existing medical conditions. Enter your details into our online comparison tool and get your travel insurance quote today.