Respite care - Breaks for carers

Respite means that you have a break from caring. This section explains what respite may be available to you as a carer. In this section, we call the person you care for ‘your relative’.

If you would like more advice or information you can contact our Advice and Information Service by clicking here.


  • Respite is a way for you to have a break from caring. Respite can mean that someone comes to your home to help you care for your relative. Your relative could also get a holiday or stay in a care home.
  • You can get respite through social services. They can do an assessment for you and your relative to see if you need a break.
  • Your local authority may offer you local services. Or offer you ‘direct payments’ so that you can choose your own respite services.
  • If you can’t get respite through social services, then charities may be able to help.
  • At the bottom of this page there is a list of services that can provide respite.

Need more advice?

If you need more advice or information you can contact our Advice and Information Service.

About and types

What types of respite are there?

There are different types of respite available. What you get depends on what your local authority thinks you and your relative need. This could include the following support:

  • Someone caring for your relative instead of you. This is called ‘replacement care.’ For example, this could include regular night care to allow you to catch up on sleep.
  • Your relative staying in a residential care home temporarily.
  • Your relative going on a holiday with or without you.
  • You go on holiday.

Your relative might go into a residential care home to have a break. If they do, their direct payments can only cover a stay of 4 consecutive weeks in any 12 months.

You can find more about ‘Direct Payments’ by clicking here.

Getting respite

How can I get respite?

Carer’s assessment

Respite is normally arranged following a carer’s assessment from social services. The assessment may show that you need a break from time to time.

To ask for a carer’s assessment, contact your local authority’s adult social care team. You can have a carer’s assessment even if your relative doesn’t want help from the NHS or social services. You are entitled to an assessment under the Care Act 2014.

Social services must assess you if they think you need support in your caring role. If they think you need respite, they will write a support plan with you and may give you a personal budget. A personal budget is a set amount of money that can help meet your needs as a carer.

If you don’t need respite, then social services can help you with other needs that you have. If your assessment shows you have ‘eligible needs’, the LA has to meet your needs. They can do this in different ways.

They will give you a support plan that says:

  • what your needs are, and
  • how they will be met.

It also explains your personal budget.

When they are writing your support plan, the LA should involve:

  • you,
  • the person you care for - if you want them to be involved, and
  • anyone else you want to be involved.

Your support plan is an agreement between you and the LA about what support they have agreed to give you.

Your relative may also need to have their needs assessed. They may also need to have respite care, such as a short holiday. If you both agree, you can have a joint assessment from social services to assess both of your needs at the same time.If you would prefer not to have a joint assessment, your relative can have their own ‘needs assessment’.

If your relative has complex needs because of their mental health, they could have support under the Care Programme Approach (CPA). CPA is the system that is used to organise many people’s care from 'secondary mental health services.’Secondary mental health services are part of the NHS and should be available in your local area. They include services such as community mental health teams.

If social services think your relative is entitled to respite, they will write a support plan with your relative. Social services may offer your relative ‘direct payments’ to pay for respite services.


Charities may be able to help you if you can’t get respite through your local authority.

Some charities can give you money towards the cost of a holiday or can offer you or your relative a place to stay. In some cases, you may need a referral from a professional such as a social worker or GP.

There is a list of charities that offer these services at the bottom of this page.

For more information about:

  • Carer’s assessment by clicking here.
  • Social assessment: Under the Care Act 2014 by clicking here.
  • Social care: Care and support planning by clicking here.
  • Social care: Charging for non-residential services by clicking here.
  • Social care: Direct payments by clicking here.
  • Care Programme Approach by clicking here.

Finding services & payment

How do I find services that offer respite?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a national list of all the services that offer respite. Sometimes they can be hard to find.

At the bottom of this page there is a list of services that offer respite. This is not a full list. If you would like to search for your own services, you can:

  • use an internet search engine – use search terms like ‘respite’, ‘respite for carers’ or ‘breaks for carers,’
  • contact a charity such as Rethink Mental Illness or Carers UK – see the ‘Useful contacts’ section at the bottom of this page,
  • ask a support worker or key worker, if you have one, or
  • ask your local council whether they have a list.

If you can’t find a service in your local town or city, try searching for a service that covers your county.

Who will pay for my respite?

If your local authority organises respite, they will assess your financial situation. This is to see if you have to pay towards the cost.

Your local authority will look at any savings and capital you have as well as your income. This doesn’t include the value of your home.

‘Capital’ means things you own that have financial value.

If your savings or capital are worth less than £14,250, the LA will ignore them when they do your assessment.

If you have more than £23,250 in savings or capital, you will have to pay for the full cost of your services.

Money you earn from work is not taken into account, but benefits and pensions can be.

If the local authority gives you a direct payment to pay for respite services, this will make up part of your personal budget.

You can find more about ‘Charging for social care’ by clicking here.

Who will pay for my relative’s care while I am having a break?

While you are on a break, your relative might need support. The local authority should provide this support. They must do this under the Care Act 2014.

Your relative is responsible to pay for this support, so they have to agree to this. But some or all of the cost might be covered by their personal budget.

Your relative’s local authority should think about how they will bring your plans and personal budgets together. For example, if they will meet your needs by giving your relative services, the local authority should explain this in your plan.

What if I am not eligible?

My relative doesn’t get support from social services. Can I get respite?

You may still be able to get respite from social services. Your local authority might give you a support plan. It will say what your needs are and how they will meet them.

As part of your support plan you could ask your local authority for a direct payment. This will allow you to arrange your own respite, rather than using a local authority service. Social services need to make sure that your relative is involved in any decision that affects their care.

Your relative will be responsible for paying for ‘replacement care’ services. If your relative refuses to pay the charge, social services will try to think of a different way to support you. As long as it is reasonable to do this.

You can find more information about ‘Direct payments’ by clicking here.

What can I do if I can’t get respite?

Following your assessment, your local authority might decide that you don’t need respite. They must tell you why in writing.

If you disagree with the decision, you can make a formal complaint.

You can find more about ‘Complaints’ by clicking here.

Further reading

The NHS Choices website has some useful information about respite care:

Useful contacts

Carers UK
They provide information and advice on areas such as carers’ assessments and services available for carers.

They also have a listening service for emotional support. This is open on Monday and Tuesday 9am – 7pm.

Telephone: 020 7378 4999

Services offering respite for you

Respite Association
Offer short-term respite care for carers to take a break. They also have 2 caravans where carers can go for a free break.

Telephone: (01566) 783383
Address: The Respite Association, Highfield Barn, Lewdown, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 4DS

Services offering respite for you and your relative

Short-term live-in care which for both the carer and your relative. They have services throughout England.

Telephone: 0800 0121 247
Address: Agincare House, Admiralty Buildings, Castletown, Portland, Dorset, DT5 1BB

Services offering respite care for your relative

Priory Care
Offers respite in care homes for people who need a short stay. They have a number of services across the UK. They offer a free "taster day" to allow your relative to try the service.

Telephone: 0808 159 3106
A website that offers a list of care homes throughout the UK.


Four Seasons
Care homes through the UK and some offer short term respite care.

Telephone: 01625 417800
Address: Four Seasons Health Care, Norcliffe House, Station Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 1BU

Stonehaven Care Group
Offers respite care and have a number of care homes across the South West region.

Telephone: 01364 644208
Address: Mardle House, Mardle Way, Buckfastleigh, Devon TQ11 0NS

Offers respite and short break services across Northern England, North Wales and Northern Ireland

Telephone: 0151 651 1716
Address: Protens Head Office, 68 Grange Road West, Birkenhead, Merseyside, CH41 4DB

High Oaks
A specialist care home for adults with mental health needs. The home is set near Diss, south Norfolk. They take referrals from throughout the UK Holiday or respite placements are available short-term and can be arranged on a planned or emergency basis.

Telephone: 01379 674456

Aspire Mental Healthcare
Offers respite care for people with mental health problems who live in their own homes when their carer is away on holiday or through illness. Support can be received at home or at their service in Chilwell House in Derbyshire.

Telephone: 0115 854 0373
Address: Chilwell House, 24 Wilmot street, lkeston, Derbyshire, DE7 8BD

Yew Tree Lodge
Offers care for people between 18-65 with severe and enduring mental health needs on 6-24 month placements.

Telephone: 0118 931 3534
Address: Yew Tree Lodge,17-19 Redlands Road Reading, Berkshire, RG1 5HX

Little Wakering House
A 12-bed residential and respite home giving support for adults ages 18-65 with a range of needs including mental health.

Telephone: 01702 217535
Address: Little Wakering House, 367-369 Little Wakering Road, Little Wakering, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS3 0LB

The Maytree Respite Centre
Supports people who are in suicidal crisis. The service offers somewhere to stay for a few nights and someone to talk to.

Telephone: 020 7263 7070
Address: 72 Moray Road, Finsbury Park, London, N4 3LG

Charities which provide holidays and breaks

Carefree provides vital breaks for unpaid carers at a minimal cost. They do this by partnering with hospitality partners who allow use of vacant accommodation. Carers can self-refer but if you’re linked to Rethink Mental Illness in some way, we can refer you as it’s simpler and easier for you.

Address: Carefreespace, The Finsbury Business Centre, 40 Bowling Green Ln, London, EC1R 0NE
Website: (you can message them via the website)

The Family Holiday Association
A small UK-wide charity giving holidays to disadvantaged children and their families. The criteria for a holiday are:

  • the referral has come from a professional such as a teacher, social worker or GP,
  • you have at least one child under the age of 18 at the time of holiday,
  • you have a low-income,
  • your family has not had a holiday in the last 4 years.

Telephone: 020 3117 0650
Address: Family Holiday Association, 3 Gainsford Street, London, SE1 2NE

Charitable trusts which provide funding towards a holiday

The Family Holiday Association
Offers one-off grants towards the cost of a family holiday in rare situations.
Contact details are above.

Offers a grants search in your local area. You will be able to see if there is any help available for a holiday.

Email: online form at

The Margaret Champney Rest and Holiday Fund
Gives small grants to carers to fund holidays. All applications must be through a social worker, community nurse or similar professional agency.

Telephone: 01394 388746
Address: The Ogilvies Charities, The Gate House, 9 Burkitt Road, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 4JJ

The Frederick Andrew Convalescent Trust (FACT)
Offers one-off grants for women who need to recover from an illness or injury and who have been in paid employment at some time during their lives.

Email: online form at

The Victoria Convalescent Trust Fund
Gives grants to pay for recovery and respite care for those who do not have the money to pay for this themselves.

Address: 62 Wilson Street, London, EC2A BU
Telephone: 020 8502 9339

3H Fund: Helping Hands for Holidays
Provides grants for holidays and respite for carers.

Telephone: 01892 860219
Address: B2, Speldhurst Business Park, Langton Road, Speldhurst,,Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 0AQ

The League of the Helping Hand
Offers financial support for carers to have a holiday. You must have a low income and a professional person like a social worker or GP has to verify your claim.

Telephone: 01444 236099
Address: The Secretary, LHH, PO Box 342, Burgess Hill, RH15 5AQ

Need more advice?

If you need more advice or information you can contact our Advice and Information Service.
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