The carers' guide to respite services

We all need to take a break from time to time.  A quiet hour, a regular weekly slot, a day off, an undisturbed night's sleep, a weekend away or a whole week, or even two on holiday. 

Knowing that we need to take a break and being able to do this are very different things.

This carers' guide to respite is designed to help us overcome any barriers.  A place to share the solutions that we (as a community of carers) have found that work, the websites that will help and some things to try.

We've labeled it "the incomplete guide" as we intend to continue growing it, with your help :)

If you would like to make a suggestion for an addition to this guide, please email


The solutions carers are looking for

We will often have different barriers and so be looking for different solutions.  If we're looking for some regular support then our blog "How to get help and support in our caring roles might be a good place to start.  If we can't get away our staycation blog might give you some inspiration

Simple solutions that might just work

Funding for breaks, holidays and respite services

Holidays that are free for carers

Holidays that are free for those we care for

Holidays and breaks that are suitable for those we care for to go without us

Holidays and breaks that we can have together with the person we care for

Overcoming our own personal barriers


Don't forget (How is carers allowance affected if I take a break?)


Simple solutions for respite breaks, that might just work

We all have very different circumstances and caring situations but here are some creative solutions from the Mobilise Community:

Can family or friends help?  We will never know unless we ask.  It will probably take planning and possibly some compromise.  It might take a combination of people.  Thinking flexibly about what would work.

Consider a caring trade with someone...(like an old fashioned baby sitting circle)

For those that have savings or some disposable income paying for respite care for the person you care for either through an agency or someone you already employ might be an option.

What funding is there for respite services, breaks, and holidays

Your local council - ask for a 'Carer's Assessment' or 'Adult Carer Support Plan' if you live in Scotland.  An outcome of this will be to agree a carer support plan which may include respite to give you a break from caring or funding towards activities that help you take a break.

Your local carers centre may have details of funding or might even run a scheme themselves.  If they are a part of the Carers Trust Network you may also be able to apply for a "Carers Trust Grant".

New respite fund for carers - Now open (June 2021) to applications through your Carers Trust Local Network Partner.

Benevolent funds linked to where you or your family have worked in the past.  For example Grocery Aid.

The Family Fund provide grants for disabled children, some carers have been succesful in applying for fudning for holidays or short breaks.

Turn2Us - As well as information and support on accessing benefits they can also help with charitable grants.

Disability Grants - Help to find the right grant for our situation

Revitalise Support Fund - helping more unpaid family carers access respite breaks

The Respite Association - funding of appropriately qualified respite care for disabled, sick, elderly or terminally ill persons so that the unpaid carer can take a much needed break.

Take a break Scotland - Scotland's short break fund for carers of disabled children, young people and their families

Shared Care Scotland - contact your local Carers' Centre to find out what is available locally.

What respite holidays are free for carers?

Carefree - transforms vacant accommodation into vital breaks for unpaid carers

After Umbrage - short term respite holiday accommodation free of charge to those caring for loved ones with life limiting and terminal conditions.  Also welcoming carers in their first 12 months of bereavement.

The Respite Association - a limited number of carer holidays with a holiday cottage and carers' retreat.

Your local carers centre may also have details of holidays and breaks in your area.

What respite holidays are free for those we care for?

We know these exist but we also know they have limited availability so we often keep quiet when we find them.  Top tip - take a look at condition specific support charities and local organisations

What respite holidays and breaks are suitable for those we care for to go without us?

Revitalise - A Revitalise respite holiday is a refreshing twist on traditional respite care. They offer a break that feels like a proper holiday for disabled people (and also for carers, if we wish). (Prices are subsidised by fundraising).

What respite holidays and breaks can carers have together with the person we care for?

Revitalise - Again, Revitalise can also help with this. Offering respite holidays for both the carer and/or the person we care for. (Prices are subsidised by fundraising).

How can carers overcome personal barriers to respite?

Sometimes the barriers can be more personal or unique to us.  Taking a break requires planning and organisation perhaps we feel we just don't have the time or energy for that.  We don't all want to have time away from the person the care for or we might feel we would be too stressed, anxious or guilty to have time to ourselves so there's just no point.

If this sounds like us we might like to book in for an individual support call to have the opportunity to talk things through and maybe come up with a plan that works for us.

Or we can ask a question in the Mobilise Community Facebook group, chances are we're not alone in our challenges

If we really are in a tight spot and can't find a way to change things starting with just five minutes of caring for ourselves might be our first step.

Don't forget...

If we have time off from our caring roles how will our carer's allowance be affected? - There are special rules for this,  if we take a break from caring of up to four weeks we can continue to receive Carer's Allowance (that's four weeks in any six month period). Do check the Government Website for further details.

If you would like to make a suggestion for an addition to this guide, please email