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Respite care – a family lifeline

Being a full-time carer for a loved one can be exhausting and, at times, isolating. You may sometimes feel as though you are working constantly and never have time for yourself. Respite care can be an invaluable tool to allow you the breaks you need.

Juggling your everyday responsibilities, supporting a member of your family and keeping up with your social life can seem impossible. You may find that there are not enough hours in the day to get all of your tasks completed. However, there is the option of short-term care which can not only offer you the peace of mind that your loved one is being supported in an effective manner, but also enables you to have some time away.

Is respite care right for my family?

Dorothy with her daughter and live-in carer

Respite support is an essential part of the care system. Those who care for a loved one often work around the clock without a break, meaning that occasionally their support standards can slip due to exhaustion.  Even having a couple of hours off to simply relax without worry can work wonders to help you re-energise and to focus clearly.

Similarly, this break can benefit entire families. Taking the time to connect with other loved ones will often strengthen the bond and make for a tighter knit family.

Benefits of respite care

Being responsible for another person, especially in regards to their health, can be incredibly daunting. While it is very rewarding to see your actions making a positive difference in their life, it can sometimes be at the expense of your own physical and mental health.

Regular support helps to reduce this pressure as you will know you always have the option of stepping away from the situation for a short while. It not only benefits you but also those in your care. Care plans are completely person-centred and are tailored to your loved ones needs and preferences.

Increased sense of inclusion

As a carer for a family member, it is common for you to be cut off from other people. Ensuring their life is comfortable and safe can take up a large chunk of your time. Consequently, they may be the only person you see each day. This can often result in you feeling lonely or isolated.

Simply having the time to go out into your local community, to meet up with friends, can help to lessen these feelings.

Lessened stress

With every role there are periods of high stress. In contrast with everyday 9 – 5 jobs, it is harder to step away from caring for your loved one. This means that this stress will build up until it becomes unmanageable, everyone has a breaking point. Heightened pressure can make you become irritable or impatient.

Regular breaks can stop this stress before it becomes a real problem. They allow you to gain some new perspective. Situations which seemed to cause large issues beforehand will start to be manageable as you look at them with a clear mind.

Letting go of guilt

Hand on hand

Caring for someone else is extremely demanding at times. Tiredness or stress can make it difficult to cope with these demands. It is important to know that this is not a reflection of you or your caring ability, it can be inevitable. That is why it is so important for you to take time for yourself.

Being away from your loved one may be hard which is why feelings of guilt are not uncommon when pursuing the idea of respite care. However, through finding a trusted person or organisation you will start to feel comfortable having these short breaks.

Different types of breaks

With respite care, the length of your break is entirely up to you.  Only you know exactly what type of break you need, with respite care there are number of different options available for you. These could be just an hour a couple of days a week, or an extended holiday over a few weeks. It can be periodically or on a regular basis, working to fit in with your routine.

While prioritising your needs may seem like a foreign concept, it is incredibly important to ensure that you take the time you need to pursue your own goals and hobbies. Above all, you need to put yourself first once in a while and allow yourself the option of engaging in your interests.

A qualified carer will step in to offer the same aspects of care you give to your loved one, always aiming to maintain continuity.

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