Replacement care (respite care) in England

3. How is replacement care provided?

The responsibility to help carers take a short break from caring lies with the local authority. The needs of a person and their carer are assessed. This needs assessment enables social services to identify what a person's care needs are. If they meet the criteria, this should be the start of a discussion with the local authority about how the person or their carer want their needs to be met.

In England 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, their carer, or a professional (eg a GP, consultant or hospital social worker) by contacting the local authority.

In some areas, replacement 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. It is important that both the carer and person with dementia are assessed if possible. They can be assessed separately, but joint assessments are available if both parties consent. A carer's needs can still be assessed if the person they care for refuses an assessment or is found not to have eligible needs after their assessment. See 'How is replacement care funded?' below.

The local authority should provide clear information and advice from the earliest stage of this process.
A range of replacement 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 people with dementia and carers may choose to arrange and pay for replacement care outside of any local authority arrangements. If someone chooses to do this, it is their responsibility to find and arrange the replacement care either with an individual, a care agency or a care home.

For more information see our page: Assessment for care and support in England.