Respite care - Breaks for carers

Respite means that you have a break from caring. This section explains what respite options may be available to you as a carer. This information is for carers of adults affected by mental illness in England. It’s also for anyone else interested in the subject.

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


On this page, we call the person you care for ‘your relative’.

  • Respite is a way for you to have a break from caring.
  • Respite can mean that someone carers for your relative to give you a break. It could be in your relative’s home, or they could get a holiday or stay in a care home. You might get a holiday too.
  • 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, charities may be able to help.
  • You might have to pay for all, some of or none of the respite charges.

Need more advice?

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

About and types

Why do carers need respite breaks?

Respite, or respite care, means that you have a break from caring while your relative still gets the care they need. This is sometimes known as a carer’s break.

Having a break is important when you care for someone. It’s important to try to look after your own wellbeing without feeling guilty about it. It can help you feel independent and help you meet your individual needs.

Respite can give you time to focus on yourself and the things that you enjoy doing. This can help reduce some of the pressure that comes with caring for someone.

Respite can also help to improve your quality of life as a carer. Having a break from caring can also help to restore a sense of balance in your life. It can be equally important for your relative. Having a short break, like a holiday, can help with their recovery.

You can find out more about respite breaks from:

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, or
  • what other respite care is available in your local area.

Respite care can include the following support:

  • Someone caring for your relative instead of you. This is called ‘replacement care.’ This could include regular night care to allow you to catch up on sleep.
  • Your relative has a short stay somewhere else, like a residential care home.
  • Help from loved ones.
  • Your relative goes to a day care centre.
  • Your relative going on a holiday with or without you.

You can find out more about different types of respite care from the NHS here:

Getting respite

How can I get respite?

What is a social care carer’s assessment?

A carer’s assessment is when social services assess your needs as a carer to see if you’re entitled to support.

If your assessment shows you have ‘eligible needs’, the LA must meet your needs. This could be respite care or other needs that you have as a carer.

You are entitled to an assessment under the Care Act 2014.

You can have a carer’s assessment even if your relative doesn’t need or want help from the NHS or social services.

Your relative can also 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. Social services can assess your needs at the same time.

To ask for a carer’s assessment, contact your local authority’s adult social care team. You can get details of your local authority here:

Social services may offer you or your relative ‘direct payments’ to pay for respite services.

For more information see our webpages on the following:

How can I get respite care from charities?

Charities may be able to help you get respite care.

Some charities can:

  • give you a grant to help pay for respite care,
  • provide a respite care break or holiday,
  • provide short term residential care for your relative.

You might need a referral from a mental health or social care professional.

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

Finding services & payment

How do I find services that offer respite?

You or your relative might have a social care needs assessment where respite care is identified as a need. See the above section for more information. If it is identified as a need, social services should provide you with details of respite services that meet your needs.

There isn’t a website or national database of all the services that offer respite.

At the bottom of this page there is a list of services that offer respite. This is not a full list.

You can also search on the internet:

  • use search terms like ‘respite care Leicestershire’, ‘respite services Nottingham’, ‘respite for carers Newham’ or ‘breaks for carers Dudley,’
  • contact a charity such as Rethink Mental Illness or Carers UK,
  • ask your support worker or key worker, if you have one, or
  • ask your local authority. You can find your local authority’s details here:

You might not be able to find a service in your local town or city. You can try searching for a service that covers your county, London borough or metropolitan borough.

Who pays for respite care?

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.

For more information see our webpages on the following:

Can my relative’s direct payments pay for them to have a break in a residential care home?
Social services might pay money to your relatives so they can buy their own care. This is known as direct payments.

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.

But the following local authorities can provide direct payments for long term care in a care home:

  • Bristol City Council
  • Cornwall Council
  • Dorset County Council
  • Gateshead Council
  • Hertfordshire County Council
  • Hull City Council
  • Lincolnshire County Council
  • London Borough of Enfield
  • London Borough of Havering
  • London Borough of Redbridge
  • Manchester City Council
  • Milton Keynes Council
  • Norfolk County Council
  • North Lincolnshire Council
  • Nottinghamshire County Council
  • Staffordshire County Council
  • Stockport Council
  • Surrey County Council

See our webpage on Social care - Direct payments for more information.

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.

If you are receiving social care support as a carer you can arrange alternative care for your relative under your care plan. But your relative is responsible for paying for the care.

If your relative is already receiving social care, the local authority must regularly review their needs. They can let the local authority know if you are taking a respite break and they need more care.

If your relative isn’t receiving social care then they can have a needs assessment from the local authority. If they have eligible needs the local authority must provide social care to meet all those needs. This social care support could:

  • help while you take a respite break, or
  • could help in the longer term, taking the pressure off you.

Your relative must agree to the assessment and any care that social services offer.

If your relative has eligible needs, social services will assess your relative’s financial situation. This is to see if they have to pay towards the cost of the care being offered.

For more information see our webpages on the following:

What if I am not eligible?

What can I do if I can’t get respite?

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

They should give you information and advice about:

  • your needs,
  • what services you can use to reduce your needs, and
  • what can prevent or delay your needs being eligible in the future.

How can I ask social services to think again about their decision?

You can ask social services if there is a set appeals process for social care decisions. If they have a set appeals process, it should be the quickest way to get your issue resolved.

If your social services have not set appeals process, you can still tell social services what you are unhappy about. You can do this by phone, in writing, or in person.

You can say something like, ‘your written reasons say x, but you haven't thought about factors y and z.’

This might help to get social services to change their mind.

How can I complain?

If social services still don’t think you need respite care, you can make a formal complaint.

See our webpage on Complaining about the NHS or social services for more information.

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. You can register for this on their website.

Phone: 0808 808 7777

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.

Phone: 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 for both the carer and relative. They have services throughout England.

Phone: 0808 2714 457
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 several services across the UK.

Phone: 0808 115 5542
You can search for care homes throughout the UK.


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

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

Stonehaven Care Group
Offers respite care and they have several care homes across the South-West region.

Phone: 01364 644208
Address: Unit C4 Linhay Business Park, Eastern Road, Ashburton, Devon, TQ13 7UP

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

Phone: 0151 651 1716
Address: Potens 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.

Phone: 01379 674456
Address: Rectory Road, Gissing, Diss, Norfolk, IP22 5UU

Aspire Mental Healthcare
Offers respite care for people with mental health problems for young people aged 16-25.

Phone: 0330 094 7750
Address: Chilwell House, 24 Wilmot Street, lkeston, Derbyshire, DE7 8BD

Yew Tree Lodge
Offers respite care for adults with mental health needs.

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

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

Phone: 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 Charity
A small UK-wide charity giving holidays to disadvantaged children and their families.

Phone: 020 3117 0650
Address: 7-14 Great Dover St, London SE1 4YR

Charitable trusts which provide funding towards a holiday

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.

Phone: 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.

Phone: 07534 184684
Address: PO Box 1291, Lincoln, LN5 5RA
Email: online form at

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

Phone: 07768 742940

The 3H Foundation
Provides grants for holidays and respite for carers.

Phone: 01892 860207
Address: B2, Speldhurst Business Park, Langton Road, Speldhurst,,Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 0AQ

The League of the Helping Hand
Offers financial support for carers on a low income to have a holiday.

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

© Rethink Mental Illness 2023

Last updated December 2022
Next update December 2025

Version number 8

You can access a fully referenced version of this information by downloading the PDF factsheet by using the link at the top of this page.

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