Respite care: The importance of a break

For most of us the festive period is a time to relax and recharge our batteries. However, for the UK’s estimated 6 million carers the festive season will bring no break from the care they need to provide for their loved ones.

Not all carers know they have options available to help alleviate the burden of care.  Respite care is a short term, temporary alternative to a person's usual care arrangements. It is one way individual carers can get a break to allow them to stop, breathe, relax and recharge themselves.

Often people who are caring for a family member or loved one do not realise how tense or tired they have become. This can influence or alter the care they are able to provide. For many people who opt for respite care, there will be  natural feelings of anxiety or even guilt. Here, Victoria Bowden,Ward Matron at BMI Healthcare looks at the best approach to tackling the subject of respite care and gives advice on how carers can help manage their own guilt and anxiety so they can approach the subject with their loved one.

“Many carers feel guilty, even when popping out to the shops or being away from their loved one for a short period of time, but they shouldn’t. The care they provide is unequalled in terms of compassion and dedication. But, everyone needs a break. When thinking about respite care it is important to remember:

  • If you stretch yourself too far you will may become ill and this will alter the care you are able to provide your loved one
  • You are entitled to your own time and should seek time away to do the things you enjoy
  • There are organisations and charities that can help, and offer advice on what options are available
  • If you can, discuss the situation with the person you are caring for. They are often able to understand and may be able to suggest what they would prefer you to do.

“It is important that you also discuss the arrangements with your loved one so they are aware of the reasons behind your decision. This will minimise their stress and discomfort. When approaching the subject it is important to remember:

  • You should avoid discussing the arrangement too far ahead of the planned date, this will cause unnecessary worry
  • When speaking about the break do so in a positive manner and perhaps speak about it in the context of a ‘holiday’. This will reinforce the idea that the break is positive and that you will be back after a short period
  • Make sure your loved one is assured that you have chosen the best place for them and that trained staff will be on hand to attend to their every need. Also remind them that they will be coming home again and things will return to ‘normal’ after a set period
  • Be confident and speak clearly and concisely when explaining the break to your loved one. Providing them with information they require will help calm them and prevent them from feeling afraid of what is ahead
  • Most importantly, remember that you are doing the right thing and that you shouldn’t feel guilty.”

For more information on the Respite Care services available at BMI Healthcare in London please call:

  • BMI The Garden Hospital on 020 8457 4500
  • BMI The Kings Oaks and Cavell Hospitals on 020 8370 9500
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Respite care: The importance of a break
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