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Respite care for parents

respite care for parents

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Being the parent of a child with special needs is not easy, as anyone who finds themselves in this situation will testify. Special children often come with a variety of complex needs, which you may feel no-one else would be able to manage. While you might be reluctant to look for outside help, there may come a time when you need it, both for yourself, your child and other family members. It could even be that a break from the home is not only beneficial for you as a carer; but it may also help broaden your child’s horizons and give them some independence.

On a more practical level, it’s definitely worth having an extra layer of support in place as you never know when you might need it in an emergency. With this in mind, here’s a brief overview of some of the general respite options available, although the support provided is likely to vary from region to region.

Home Sitting Schemes

While the use of babysitters is probably the most obvious choice for many families, you may not know anyone who you feel has the skills and experience to cope with your child’s additional needs. Some areas operate home sitting schemes for people caring for disabled children. They may be provided through social services or charity organisations. Health visitors, social workers, occupational therapists or your local branch of the national carers association may be able to provide you with information about any schemes in your area.

Respite Carerespite care for parents

Many local authority areas operate respite schemes in some form; where your child is looked after outside the home for a period of time at regular intervals. Again they are either organised by social services or charities and you can apply for respite care through your local social services department. Respite care could involve your child staying in a hospital, residential home, or with another family. Some charities offer care at fully-equipped centres where they will often stay with other children. Parents vary in how much respite care they want to use; some may use it one day a week, a weekend a month, or for a fortnight at a time.

Direct Payments

These payments are made directly to you to enable you to buy in care services for your child, rather than using those provided by the local authority. They aim to give you more control, greater choice and more flexibility over the type of care delivered and again you will need to apply through your social worker.


Children’s hospices, which are often charity-run organisations, can offer special respite care for the child alone, or the family as a whole. They are usually for children with life-threatening or life-limiting conditions.


The Holiday Care Service can give advice on breaks for the whole family, with information on specially-adapted accommodation, transport and possible sources of financial help. It can also provide information on holidays that your child may be able to go on without the family as part of a specially-organised trip.




About Linda Ram

About Linda Ram

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