Caring for a loved one can be a positive and rewarding experience, but it can also be extremely demanding and exhausting for people giving the care.
Charlotte cares for her 69-year-old mum Anne who is living with multiple sclerosis (MS), but as Anne’s care needs increase, the strain on Charlotte and her family is increasing too and she now needs to explore additional care options.
With a young son to look after, Charlotte’s situation means there is a lot of pressure on her to juggle her family’s needs, and with Anne’s condition deteriorating as time goes on, the level of care she requires is becoming harder for Charlotte to manage.
Like many people in similar situations, Charlotte is now exploring the different options available so she can find the right care for Anne in the future. One option is for Anne to access short-term ‘respite care’, which would provide the opportunity for Charlotte to have a much-needed break while safe in the knowledge that her mum is still being cared for.
An introduction to respite care
Here, Evermore’s commissioning director, Gaye Clark answers Charlotte’s questions about respite care, its benefits and how best to broach the topic with her mum.
What is respite care?
Respite care means taking a break from caring, while the person you care for is looked after by someone else, for example with a short stay in a care home like Ashton Manor. Caring for another person can be physically and mentally demanding, and much more than purely handling the day-to-day tasks. Especially when caring for long periods at a time, the emotional strain can take its toll.
How long would you recommend using respite care for?
An ideal first respite break would last four weeks to allow a settling in period, in which our team can really get to know your mum. We might be able to offer shorter stays at Ashton Manor for any subsequent respite break, for example if you needed to attend a family emergency or other commitment.
Respite care ensures that the person you are supporting always has someone there to help them if you’re not able to be around. With our expert carer assessments in place, we can provide the highest quality respite care breaks.
How could using respite care help me and my family?
Everybody needs some time for themselves, even more so when they care for someone else. This is where respite care can be integral to you [being able to care for your loved one over a longer period]. It lets you take time out to look after yourself and helps to stop you from becoming exhausted and run down.
What will the experience be like for Mum?
Every person who accesses respite has their own bedroom, which they’re free to personalise with photographs and ornaments from home, to help create a familiar environment.
We encourage all residents to take part in the life of the home during their stay. Respite care can be a valuable break for residents too – it’s a chance to meet new people, enjoy a change of scenery and try out some new activities and experiences.
How can I talk to my mum about using respite care without upsetting her?
Many people ignore their own needs indefinitely, but [I bet], as a mother, she would do anything if it meant helping or bettering the life of one of her children. I refer to this as the ‘help me help you’ strategy. In the course of several discussions let your mum know that having some respite would help you to take a break and recharge.
I’m worried about how she’ll feel about going into care, even if it’s temporary, is that normal?
It is totally normal to feel anxious about any new experience. Where possible, we would ask you to call in once or twice a week, ahead of a planned respite break, and join us for a coffee and a piece of cake so that your mum gets to know our faces prior to her stay. It is also always great to get other family members involved by staying in touch and calling her for a chat. It’s normal for you to feel anxious too, but there’s nothing at all to feel guilty about, it will help you to recharge so you can give of yourself more fully after the break.
Could respite care help Mum with the transition into a care home full-time in the future?
Definitely. Respite care offers the person a chance to experience a care home for a temporary period. Some people use a respite stay as a ‘trial period’ to see if they like it, with a view to maybe eventually moving in permanently when they are ready.
If you’d like to find out more about how respite care at Ashton Manor could help you and your family, please get in touch with our friendly team who will be happy to provide more information and answer your questions. You can call us on 01524 566 007 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We have changed names in this article to protect privacy.