Respite care in Wales

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 factsheet looks at what respite 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.

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

What is 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 wellbeing and can enhance their 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 respite care (see ‘Types of respite care’). It may be possible to have a combination of different types. It can be helpful to speak to a professional (such as a social worker) about the options available. Different types of respite care may be available in different parts of the country. They include:

  • day centres
  • care and support at home
  • a short stay in a care home
  • Shared Lives (a scheme where a person needing support regularly visits an approved carer – see ‘Other useful organisations’)
  • holidays or short breaks
  • carers’ emergency respite care schemes
  • direct payments to fund creative solutions.

These arrangements are covered in detail in this factsheet.

When considering respite care, it’s important to think about the type of care and support the person with dementia needs. Full-time nursing care is expensive and may not always be necessary. When arranging care and support with a homecare agency or care home, staff should talk to you about writing a care and support plan that aims to achieve good outcomes for the person with dementia.

Similarly, if the person with dementia has an assessment that focuses on their personal outcomes, this should help identify both their care needs, and the things that matter most to them. A professional, such as a social worker or dementia specialist nurse, can provide more information.

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