Respite offers carers a well-earned rest from looking after another person. With time to think of other things, and some time for themselves, respite is often just what the doctor ordered for carers’ own wellbeing.
But it’s not just carers that can benefit from a break. For those with healthcare needs, respite is also often welcomed. Ann Hull, general manager of Barchester Healthcare's Iddenshall Hall Care Home in Tarporley, Cheshire has noted just that: "The only problem we have with respite is that we never have a spare respite bed because nobody wants to leave.
"Respite can ease people into the idea of living in a home. The usual pathway is to come for day care then have a short stay and ultimately, if they like it here, move in on a more long-term basis."
At Iddenshall Hall, everyone is treated equally whether their stay is long-term or for respite, explaining: "We don't think in terms of 'temporary' residents.
"It's all about integrated care. I make a point that every resident can stop by to talk to me or any of the team whenever they like."
Ann’s door is always open to the families as well, who can be comforted when they go away on holiday by the knowledge that their relative is staying somewhere they are already familiar with. They will know the carers and will be confident in the quality of the care.
Unfortunately there are still concerns with regards to support for respite care. This was highlighted by Fiona Phillips and her work on the recently-aired Channel 4 show Dispatches: My Family and Alzheimer's.
Having looked into the struggle of those with Alzheimer's and their families to get sufficient care and support in 2009's Dispatches: Mum, Dad, Alzheimer's and Me, Ms Phillips' latest programme update sought to find out whether there has been any improvement in the provision of financial support and respite care.
A YouGov survey of 767 carers featured in Dispatches: Mum, Dad, Alzheimer's and Me revealed that over two-fifths (41 per cent) rarely or never got respite care.
It seems that respite would help many, with less than half (49 per cent) of carers of those with Alzheimer's saying they receive aid from social services. This is despite the fact that a fifth (20 per cent) claimed they sometimes or often feel threatened by the people they care for.
Angela, whose mother went into respite care at a Barchester Healthcare care home, noted how it provided her and husband John with greater freedom. She commented: "It's also given me and John the opportunity to spend some quality time together. We finally have time to see our friends and family without constantly worrying about mum."
Read more about Barchester's dementia care homes.