Respite breaks for carers

It may be hard for you to find time for yourself, especially if the person you care for needs you to be with them constantly. However, it's important for your health and well-being to spend time away from the person you care for, doing something for yourself that you enjoy. This may be a couple of hours a week to meet friends, spend time with your family or get some exercise, or it may be a longer break to go on holiday.

Help in the home

A bit of help around the home may make all the difference. Don't feel you have to do everything yourself - ask other family members or friends to help out for a few hours a week. If they can't help care for the person you look after, perhaps they could do something else for you, such as the shopping or washing, to free up some of your time.

Social work or a local voluntary organisation should also be able to arrange for someone to look after the person you care for while you go out, or to take them out for a while so you can have your home to yourself. This may be a professional care worker, who can carry out personal care tasks such as helping the person get dressed and washed, or a volunteer who can prepare meals or simply keep the person company. This service may be recommended in your carer's assessment.

You can find out more about getting help at home at the UK Home Care Association website.

Day centres

You may be able to arrange for the person you care for to spend a few days a week in a day centre, where they can spend time with other people and take part in organised activities such as craft workshops and outings. Some centres also run educational and training courses. Many day centres can arrange transport to and from the centre. Day centres are run by the council and by voluntary organisations such as Capability Scotland.


If you need to go away over night, you may be able to arrange for a nurse, care worker or volunteer to stay with the person you care for. This service may be provided by your local health service or social work department, by a voluntary organisation or a private agency.

Residential care

If you need a longer break, you may consider asking the person you look after to spend some time in a residential care home or nursing home. Social work may be able to contribute towards the cost of staying in a care home, although this may affect your benefits and the benefits of the person you care for. A benefits adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau, welfare rights agency or carers' centre should be able to help you arrange for the person to stay in a care home without either of you losing any benefits.

Contact a benefits adviser at Citizens Advice Bureau.

Going on holiday with the person you care for

A change is as good as a rest, and going away with the person you care for could be just the rest that both of you need. Some organisations, such as Vitalise, specialise in arranging holidays for disabled people and their carers. You can find out more about accessible holidays at the Tourism for all website, and you can search for a holiday that suits you at the Disabled Holiday Directory.

Paying for respite care

You may be able to get help from social work to pay for respite services, or you may decide to pay for them yourself - read the page on paying for care at home to find out more.

Find out more

The Scottish Government has more information on breaks for carers.

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Last updated: 17 June 2021

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