Having a break from caring (respite)

Respite Care

Respite care means taking a break from caring, while the person you care for is looked after by someone else. It lets you take time out to look after yourself and helps stop you becoming exhausted and run down.

A respite care service is provided to the person you care for, to temporarily replace the care you would otherwise give them.

Respite care options

Family and friends

Family and friends are often willing to help. However, they often don’t know how they can help, and need to be asked to do specific things. Such as visiting regularly so that you can plan to do something for yourself, or coming to stay to allow you to have a break away. This sort of respite care is often called informal respite.

Clubs and activities

There are many clubs and activities in Merton that might be suitable for the person you care for. However, the person attending will usually be expected to be able to attend and take part independently, with no support from the people running the activity.

  • Lunch clubs provide a friendly atmosphere for older people to meet and enjoy lunch together.
  • Wimbledon Guild has a programme of activities for all sorts of people.
  • Age UK Merton runs activities for older people.

More formal respite ranges from care provided for an hour or two, to holidays where the cared for person is cared for.

Day Centres

Day Centres provide a range of activities and services for older people, people with a learning disability and people with physical disabilities. Merton Council’s website has a list.


Merton Council has a directory of organisations that provide holidays for people with learning and/or physical disabilities.

Paying for respite care

Many Carers arrange respite care privately.

Merton Council may offer residential or day care as part of a care package for the person you care for. Any care package will be financially assessed.

Four hours a week of respite care is available from Merton Council but only if there are no other options and the cared for person would be at risk if left alone.

Breaks for you

A charity called Carefree works with hotels to offer free short breaks to fulltime family Carers. You need to register and organise care for the person you care for while you are away.