Respite care in Wales

3. How is respite care provided?

The responsibility to help carers take a short break from caring lies with the local authority. In Wales, these duties are outlined in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

The local authority will need to assess a person’s needs before agreeing to provide care. In Wales, a needs assessment or a carer’s assessment is available to anyone if it appears that they may have care and support needs. It can be requested by the person with dementia, a carer or a professional (for example a GP, consultant or hospital social worker) by contacting the local authority.

It is important that both the carer and person with dementia are assessed, if possible. You and the person you care for can be assessed separately, or as a combined assessment. Your needs can still be assessed even if the person you care for refuses an assessment or is found not to have eligible needs after their assessment.

The assessment enables social services to identify what matters most to the carer and the person they support, including any needs they have. If you or the person you care for meet the criteria, this should be the start of a discussion with the local authority about how you want your needs to be met, including respite care.

For more information see Assessment for care and support in Wales.

In some areas, respite care for a person with dementia is provided as a result of a carer’s assessment, while in others it’s provided after a needs assessment for the person themselves. A range of respite care options may be offered. This could include a stay in a care home, a place at a day centre or access to another type of break using a direct payment. Some local authorities or carers’ organisations will provide respite care to the person with dementia in an emergency (usually between 48 and 72 hours depending on the situation). The local authority or local carers’ centre can provide more information and say what is available in a certain area. They should provide clear information and advice from the earliest stage of this process.

Some people with dementia and carers choose to arrange and pay for respite care outside of any local authority arrangements. If you choose to do this, it is your responsibility to find and arrange the respite care either with an individual, a care agency or a care home.

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.