You may feel uncomfortable about using respite especially for the first time. Remember that it is only for a short time and that taking regular breaks will help you to keep providing the best care you can.
It is common for carers to feel reluctant about using respite. You may worry about leaving the person you care for or feel that nobody can look after them as well as you do.
Concerns are normal but they need to be balanced against the risk that you will burn out.
Regular breaks can give you time to re-energise, enjoy different activities and concentrate on other relationships. They can help you to care better.
It’s my duty
Many carers feel it is their responsibility to provide all the care, all the time. You may feel like a failure asking other people for help, or guilty about enjoying yourself away from your family member.
Remember that most people don’t work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Try to think about caring as another job you have taken on – make sure you don’t become your own worst employer.
Nobody else can provide the care I do
You may be anxious about leaving your family member with other people or worry that they will not be cared for properly.
Nobody can replace your expertise, or the one to one care you provide at home, but remember that respite providers employ trained and skilled staff and operate under strict regulations and standards.
You can help by giving the respite provider as much information as you can about your family member’s routines, preferences and requirements.
People will think I can’t cope
You may feel that family members or friends will disapprove or decide you can’t cope anymore.
Discuss your need for a break with your family. Be open to their concerns but make it clear why respite will help you. If you find it difficult to be firm about your needs, ask your doctor or support worker for advice and help.
Read our advice on family meetings for tips about how to discuss your caring role with other family members.
I just don’t have time to organise anything
Perhaps you don’t know what services are available in your area or how to go about organising a break. You may feel it’s not worth the disruption or that you don’t have the time and energy to bother.
Our regional respite and carer support service can help you to find out about respite options in your area and give you advice and support around planning and managing emotional issues.
They may also be able to help you to organise bookings and find out if financial assistance is available to help you to cover any cost.
Convincing the person you care for
Your family member may be anxious or reluctant to be looked after by strangers. This may particularly be the case if English is not their first language, if they find it difficult to communicate their needs, or if they don’t cope well with change.
Remember that respite can also be a break for the person you are supporting. It can give them the opportunity to meet new people and to experience a new environment and change of routine.
If your family member is anxious
Let them express their concerns and fears, but try to be clear and consistent about why you are considering respite. Reassure them. Show them you feel positive about the break and that you think it will be good for both of you.
If your family member doesn’t like to be left
Make sure they understand you are not abandoning them. Be clear about when the respite will finish and reassure them that this is only a temporary break for both of you.
If your family member doesn’t like change
Take it slowly. Visit the respite provider together so that your family member knows what to expect.
Start with small breaks and build up to longer ones. Build up familiarity with the new environment and routines gradually.
It may help your family member to adjust if you share the care with respite workers the first few times. Stay with your family member the first time they use a day program, for example, or be at home for the first few visits of an in home respite worker.
Take the time to get to know the workers who will be providing respite support. You may be able to negotiate to have the same workers available every time you use a service.
If your family member doesn’t speak English
There are some respite services available for people with particular cultural needs or who speak languages other than English.
In some areas, it may also be possible to ask for home based respite workers from the same culture and language or to organise interpreting services. Call our advisory service on 1800 242 636 for assistance in how to move forward.