What is respite care (sometimes called replacement care)
Respite care, also called replacement care, is support which allows the carer to have a break from their responsibilities and have some time to do the things they choose. It may involve the cared for person spending a week or more in a care home, or more help may be given within the home, such as someone coming in to help during the night.
The carer’s needs assessment
The first step, for all carers, is to ask your local authority to carry out a carer’s needs assessment. The Care Act, 2014, which partly came into force in April 2015 has some significant implications for carers and respite. Local authorities now have a legal responsibility to carry out a carer’s needs assessment for anyone who requests it (regardless of their financial means).
The carer’s needs assessment is distinct from the care and support needs assessment of the person receiving care; it is focused on the person responsible for caring, considering their needs and the impact of caring upon that individual.
A carer’s needs assessment will be carried out by your local authority (or by a company working on behalf of your local authority) and may be face-to-face, by telephone or online. It will consider the impact providing care and support has one your well-being, what you would like to achieve and do beyond your caring role. If the carer is assessed as having eligible needs (according to national criteria) the carer must have their own support plan.
Who pays for respite care?
Whether you are entitled to be paid for respite care depends on the type of funding the individual and their carer are entitled to. There are different rules and entitlements to respite for those with continuing healthcare funding (NHS), those with a personal budget for care and support (local authority) and those who are self-funding.
Respite care for people with continuing healthcare funding
To qualify for continuing healthcare funding, an individual is assessed as having a primary health need, rather than social care (washing, dressing for example). Those qualifying are funded by the NHS and this type of funding is not means based. We explain the continuing healthcare assessment in more detail here.
Respite for primary carers is considered as part of continuing healthcare packages. Sometimes, people are given personal budget with greater control over how their budget is spent, including consideration of respite. If you have a package of care and support managed by your clinical commissioning group (CCG), this should be organised in close communication with you, including considerations about respite, so it is best to contact them in the first place if you are a carer and feel respite is needed. Here is an example of how we organised respite care for a carer whose mother was living with her and had continuing healthcare funding.
Respite care for people who qualify for local authority funded care and support
To qualify for local authority funded care and support, the individual’s care needs assessment will have identified eligible needs (under nationally set criteria). We explain more about this process in more detail here. If there are eligible needs, the local authority is obliged to draw up a plan for meeting those needs. However, this type of care, called social care, is not free; it is means tested, based on your local authority guidelines.
If you are a carer of a person receiving local authority funded care and support, it is advisable for you to have a carer’s needs assessment. Your local authority is obliged to carry this out. If your needs assessment shows an impact on your well-being and a need for respite, the funding for respite should come from the individual’s care and support budget, not be a cost for the carer (Care Act, 2014).
Respite care for people who are self-funding
Even if an individual is paying for their own care, some of the same principles of support still apply: the carer is entitled to a carer’s needs assessment which the local authority must carry out, including support and advice in terms of how the carer’s needs can be met. Although the local authority will not pay for services, they can signpost you to services, including ones provided without cost. Our care and support advisers specialise in helping people who are self-funding and our company has 20 years of experience in setting up respite care for families.
There are some excellent projects such as Shared Lives which provide respite care, where the individual stays with a family matched and assessed as being able to meet their needs, allowing their carers to have a break.
Emergency care replacement schemes
Many local authorities now have what is used called Emergency Care Replacement Schemes. Carers register with their local authority to ensure that if something happened to the carer which impacted upon their ability to maintain their caring responsibilities, alternative provisions could be quickly put into place. Some schemes also involve free services for carers, such as support groups and therapeutic sessions.