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Respite care is a "vital" resource

18th October 2006

A mental health charity has described respite care services as "vital" for those with learning difficulties.

As the Commission for Social Care comments on the quality of care in the UK, discussion is ignited about the essential resource that care can provide for the most vulnerable.

Carole Herrity, campaigns manager at the charity Mencap, has said that seven out of ten families of a person with learning disabilities had "reached breaking point" because they did not have a short-break service.

"In terms of people being able to manage their family life and their relationship with their children and their spouse, and managing their own health, not having those sort of breaks means that people get more physical and mental health problems," said Ms Herrity.

"Seven out of ten families give more than 15 hours of care over the day, five out of ten families always provide care during the night, so that's a tremendous burden of care."

She added that about two per cent of the population is considered to have learning disabilities and that with the additional pressure of people living longer, the pressure on both families and publicly-funded care is only increasing.