7. Respite care: tips for carers
If you care for a person with dementia and are thinking of arranging respite care for them, there are some things it can help to do and think about.
- Plan ahead – New environments can be challenging for a person with dementia. It can help to set up a regular respite care routine, to help both you and the person adjust. Some people find it helpful to use respite care in the early stages of the condition, or before they feel it is needed, rather than at the later stages or if a crisis or emergency situation arises. This can give you a feel for respite care, as well as a chance to try different types.
- Consider short breaks or visits to start with – This will mean you, the person and those providing respite care can get to know each other. It may help to build confidence before a longer visit.
- Arrange a needs assessment – If both you and the person have an assessment of your needs, it will help you both to know what you need and the options you have.
- Talk about respite care – Some people find openly talking about respite care helpful. It will give both you and the person with dementia a chance to discuss your options and your feelings. You know the person best, so will know the best way to talk to them.
- Talk to paid carers – It’s important for a paid carer to get to know the person and what works for them. Talking to them about their needs and their routine can help. For care at home, it can help for the person and the new carer to spend time together (possibly with you to start with) so they get to know each other and build a relationship before the respite care starts.
- Visit the care home or day centre – Ask carers about their training and experience, and what care and support they can provide. The quality of care the person will receive is important. You may feel more confident with the respite care arrangement if you know what training and skills the staff have.
- Talk to others – Talking to other carers about your feelings can help. They may be able to give tips and suggestions. However, it’s important to remember what works for one person may not work for another. You may also want to talk to a professional (for example a support worker) about how you’re feeling.
- Focus on the benefits – You may be worried that a respite care arrangement won’t provide the same level of care as you can, or that the person will become unsettled. It is natural to be concerned, but try to focus on how the break will support you in your caring role.
- Keep trying – Respite care is an adjustment for everyone. If something doesn’t work or doesn’t go to plan, try not to give up. Another type of respite care or another location may be more successful. You may need to try different options to find what works best for you and the person.