Carers Information Pack

Taking a Break

Taking a break from caring may mean a two week holiday, or could be just a few hours to go out for the evening or to get a beauty treatment. As a carer it is important to look after your own needs, as well as those of the person you care for. You may feel guilty about leaving the person you care for or they may be reluctant to let someone else look after them. However, caring can be very stressful and having some time off to rest, relax and refresh yourself will benefit both you and the person you care for. This information sheet contains details of some of the help available to take a break, as well as ideas on things to do with your time off.

Respite Care

Respite care is when someone else takes over your caring duties for a while, allowing you to take a break. The respite care may be for a few hours or a few weeks, and could take place in the home or in a placement away from home.

You can arrange respite care through:

  • social services (via a social worker)
  • voluntary organisations
  • private care organisations
  • friends or family


Social services and voluntary organisations

Many forms of respite care can be arranged by social services as part of a care package. Make sure that you are clear and firm about your respite needs when you have an assessment. The package of care may be provided by social services or another voluntary or private organisation.

Social services may refer you to one of the voluntary organisations which can help with respite care arrangements.

LinkAge Southwark run a series of groups and activities, including a reading group, art appreciation, reminiscence and exercise.

Day Centres offer care, activities and a chance to socialise for people with particular care needs, giving carers free time during the day to do other things. Many day centres only take referrals from social services.

Lunch clubs and social clubs provide opportunities for older or disabled people to get out for a few hours on a regular basis, giving the carer a break.

Details are available from Age UK.

Supported work schemes can allow carers to have a break from caring whilst the person they care for benefits from employment or work experience in a supportive environment. Mind produce a factsheet on employment schemes for users of mental health services. The ‘Employ Me’ scheme, run by Mencap, helps people with learning difficulties to find suitable work opportunities.

Private care organisations

By arranging privately for someone to provide care at home, you may gain more control over the timing of respite care. Many people find it too costly to pay for private care, although you may be able to get some financial assistance in the form of Direct Payments from social services.

Private care workers can be employed directly by yourself or by using an agency. It is usually more expensive to use an agency but often more convenient, as they will deal with much of the paperwork.

Ideas for Breaks

Leisure activities

It is important to make some time for yourself in which to do something relaxing or fun. Why not join an exercise class at your local leisure centre or community centre? How about enrolling on a part time adult education class?

Or when was the last time you visited one of London’s great museums or galleries? There are countless leisure opportunities in and around Southwark catering for all tastes.

Southwark Carers run a number activities, free to members, such as film club, haberdashery group and a Carers’ Activity Group.

For details of learning opportunities in Southwark, contact Southwark Adult Education or look in the Floodlight directory.

Many other community organisations offer various activities; look out for details in your local community centre, leisure centre, library or Citizens Advice Bureau.

Getting away

A number of organisations offer holidays or retreats which are either designed specifically for carers or are ‘carer-friendly’. The Kiloran Trust provides supportive residential breaks for carers in their house in West London. Hillcroft College in Surrey runs mid-week residential courses for women who are (or have recently been) caring for someone.

Dalmellington House in Ayrshire was opened in April 2009 after a full restoration. A former doctors surgery, this boutique hotel caters for carers and provides a spa, sightseeing tours, activities and an award winning chef. If you would like to go away with the person you care for, Vitalise organizes breaks and holidays throughout the UK and abroad, including special weeks for people with Alzheimers Disease.

Find us

Southwark Carers
3rd Floor, Walworth Methodist Church,
54 Camberwell Road, London, SE5 0EW
View map and directions

Contact us

020 7708 4497

Find us

Nearest tube: Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).

Nearest Railway Station: Elephant & Castle

Buses from Elephant and Castle: ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45