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Vital Role of Respite Home Care for the Five Million Unpaid Caregivers

According to the latest census data, there are an estimated 5 million family caregivers in the UK. However, organisations like Carers UK believe that the real total is closer to over 10 million, where some people do not claim allowances or support.

For many, the physical demands, emotional stress, and continuous pressure of caring duties can be detrimental, which is where respite care can have a profound impact, either on a temporary, occasional or regular basis. We consider the vital role of respite home care to support the UK’s essential caregivers.

A family caregiver is a person who looks after the well-being, safety, comfort, and medical needs of a loved one, either on a regular basis or all the time. This presents a series of significant challenges in terms of their own welfare, health and ability to work.

While we might have a typical idea of a carer, the reality is that carers are incredibly diverse and can include children caring for their parents while still attending school, partners looking after their significant other, and adults caring for their parents or children from home.

What are the Issues for Family Caregivers Looking After a Loved One at Home? 

Most people prefer to retain as much independence as possible if they have a health condition, disability or progressive illness, which means they cannot always manage tasks and personal care routines by themselves. Home carers juggle caring around work, education, and family obligations, often sacrificing their own wishes and self-care in the process.

Statistics and Data on the Impacts of Unpaid Care

Carers UK research tells us that:

  • 60% of family carers have a disability or long-term health condition themself.
  • Nearly a third of carers report feelings of loneliness, often or all of the time.
  • One in seven workers try to manage caring for a relative alongside their career.
  • 41% of unpaid carers are aged 45-65, with 600 people leaving the workforce daily to cope with caring duties.
  • 25% of carers have cut back on essentials like food and heating due to their inability to work.
  • 44% of adults of working age who provide 35 or more hours of care a week are living in poverty.

This vast array of pressures, health impacts and financial ramifications make respite care essential. Respite care means that a qualified, compassionate carer takes over from a family caregiver for the required period, enabling them to get a well-needed rest or take a break from the strain of caring.

There are some entitlements family caregivers can claim, although they may be unaware of these or assume they are ineligible due to being in work or education. For the 2024/25 tax year, the Carers Allowance is paid at £81.90 per week but is only offered to carers below a defined income threshold.

Some families are eligible for additional financial support, normally made available following a needs assessment and a carer’s assessment conducted by the local council.

What is Role of Respite Home Care and why is it Important for Family Carers?

A role of respite home care from a professional respite carer specialises in offering support, practical assistance, and emotional help to families, not limited to the person or people who require care.

Some families have a respite carer visit on a recurring schedule, which might be for a fixed number of hours on specific days of the week. This routine allows the family carer to take a well-deserved break, focus on their own needs, or attend work or educational courses.

Respite care can also act as:

  • Wraparound care to cover hours or periods when family caregivers are not available.
  • Holiday respite care for a few days or weeks when family carers are away.
  • Emergency respite care to help when a family carer is unwell.

Part of the benefit of respite care is that it ensures home carers have the peace of mind that the care recipient is in great hands while they rest. A journal published by the National Library of Medicine found that many carers report that they experience negative emotions or feel guilty for needing a break from caring.

Having a trusted respite care service, often with the same carer who gets to know the individual’s routines, likes and dislikes, and preferences, addresses this issue, ensuring family carers never burn out or try to deliver care entirely on their own far beyond their capacity.

What are the Benefits of Respite Care for Family Members?

Even the most dedicated primary caregiver requires a much-needed break from time to time to recharge their batteries, recuperate and rest. Care responsibilities can be demanding, whether a carer is administering medication throughout the day and night, needs to be on hand to help at a moment’s notice, or is disregarding their own health due to a lack of time capacity.

In-home respite care is helpful not only for a family member caring for a loved one but may also benefit the care recipient. A person with complex needs is less likely to need to consider a care home if their family has ongoing care support, help with caring responsibilities, or emergency respite care on hand if they become ill or experience fatigue.

Family carers who have routine opportunities to take a break may experience less stress, have improved personal well-being, have more time to socialise with friends and family, and foster a better relationship with an elderly loved one or other relative when they have the right support.

Choosing the Right Types of Respite Care

There is no prescribed pattern of respite care since every family is different. One person might provide short-term care to look after a loved one after a hospital stay, whereas another might act as a long-term caregiver for someone needing dementia care, for example.

Guardian Angel Carers endeavours to provide the right amount of support to meet your needs, whether that means:

  • Offering a respite home care service for a short period of up to four weeks.
  • Arranging respite care while you take a temporary break.
  • Providing short-term care for a few hours every week or organising respite support on a reoccurring basis.
  • Liaising with family members to select a regular carer to offer ongoing respite home care for six months or longer.

Whatever your requirements, respite care can be of considerable benefit to both you and your care recipient. Please contact your nearest Guardian Angel Carers office for more information or to schedule a confidential chat to help you arrange respite care to safeguard the needs and health of all family members.