Replacement care (respite care) in England

These pages looks at what replacement care is, the different types that are available, and how to pay for it. It also offers tips to help carers and people with dementia to get the most out of replacement care.

Replacement care, also commonly known as respite care, is any care arrangement designed to give rest or relief to unpaid carers. It aims to support carers to have a break from their caring responsibilities. 

This section is for people living in England and is not intended for Wales and Northern Ireland, where the systems are different. For information on respite care in these countries please see our pages: Respite care in Wales or Respite care in Northern Ireland.

What is replacement (respite) care?

Everyone needs a break from time to time. Carers are no different, and it is important that they are able to have a rest, whether it is a short break to run errands or meet friends, or longer time spent away. Breaks are good for a carer's physical and mental well being and can enhance the relationship with the person they care for. The person with dementia may also benefit from the break. It could provide social interactions and opportunities to pursue hobbies and interests, remain involved and active, and form new relationships.

There are many different types of replacement care. It may be possible to have a combination of different types: it can be helpful to speak to a professional (eg social worker) about the options available. Different types of replacement care may be available in different parts of the country. They include:

  • day centres
  • care at home
  • a short stay in a care home
  • Shared Lives
  • holidays or short breaks
  • carers' emergency replacement care schemes.

These arrangements are covered in detail in this section.

When considering replacement care, it's important for a carer to think about the type of care the person with dementia needs. Full-time nursing care is expensive and may not always be necessary. When arranging care with a homecare agency or care home, staff should talk to the carer about writing a care plan around meeting the needs of the person with dementia. Similarly, if the person with dementia has a needs assessment, this should help identify their care needs. A professional, such as a social worker or dementia specialist nurse, can provide more information.

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