Support for carers

Breaks for carers

We support unpaid carers to take a break from their caring role and to enjoy some time for themselves. This could be to pursue social, educational or employment opportunities or just relax and have some leisure time. A break allows you to rest, recharge your batteries and cope better with your caring role.

If you would like support, you will need to have a carers' assessment which social services will help you with. You can ask for a carers' assessment even if the person you care for doesn't receive any services from us. Assessments are free of charge. You can ask for an assessment regardless of the amount or type of care you provide, your financial means or your level of need for support. You don't have to live with the person you are looking after or be caring full-time to have an assessment. You may be juggling work and care which is having a big impact on your life.

If you and the person you are looking after agree, a combined assessment of both your needs can be undertaken at the same time.

The assessment can be done face-to-face, over the telephone or online.

After the assessment, we will decide if you are eligible to receive a carer's service.

If you meet the eligibility for a carers break, we will discuss your options with you.

Respite care

This is where the person you care for attends either a day centre which allows you to take a break from your caring role or where they may stay in a residential care home for a short period of time.

Respite care can be provided in a variety of ways, including:

  • a short-term place in a care home or part of a shared lives service
  • attendance at a day service
  • a Direct Payment for respite, allowing the carer/cared for person to find a resource of their choice

Care home residential respite placement

A short break in a residential or nursing care home can be arranged, this could also provide a break for the person you care for.

If you want us to support you with finding a respite placement in a care home, this might be one of our care homes such as Westlands or Ferndale for older people or Linsell House for those under 65, or we will look for a home and purchase one of the beds we have a contracted arrangement with. These work well for rolling respite arrangements as you can book dates in advance. 

However, if you have a preferred care home that we do not have a purchase arrangement with, please be aware that the home you choose may not have vacancies on the dates you want to book.

If the care home has a vacancy to support the person, they will then go and assess the person you care for and confirm to the social worker if they can meet the person's needs and then confirm the booking. 

Read about how to find a care home.

Shared Lives

Shared Lives is for someone who needs support to live independently, and wants to live in a family home environment; it’s a bit like foster care, but for adults.

This service is provided by Shared Lives carers, who share their home and family life with an adult who needs care or support to help them live well. This type of arrangement provides a unique and highly flexible form of accommodation and support.

Shared Lives can support adults with a variety of support needs including learning disabilities, mental ill health, autism, sensory impairments, young adults moving on from children’s services or perhaps someone needing support after leaving hospital.

The Shared Lives scheme for Central Bedfordshire residents is provided by Ategi. Ategi is a registered charity that have been providing Shared Lives services for over 20 years.

Ategi will carefully match you with one of our Shared Lives carers, who share their home and family, supporting you to develop your skills, work towards your goals and to be more independent. You could spend the day, stay for a short break, or move in; it’s completely flexible to your needs.

Find out more about Shared Lives.

Day services

If you and the person you care for prefer, you can choose to receive a break using one of our day services.

We have a variety of day services available that will provide people with support and give their carers a break.

Older people: find out more about day services.

Under 65s: find out more about day services.

Availability of care and support providers

If none of the respite care providers are able to provide appropriate support, we will consider other services that we know of, but some of these may be outside of Central Bedfordshire, such as in Bedford or Luton.

Personal budget via Direct Payment

A personal budget is funding which is allocated to an individual for the help and support they need. You can choose to take your personal budget, or part of it, as a direct cash payment, to spend on services of your choice instead of asking us to arrange services for you. If you choose a direct payment, any services arranged must still be in line with the support plan of the person you care for and must be used to meet assessed needs.

In some cases, you may be going away and require the person you care for to be supported at home with a live-in carer for the period required. Also, couples may go on holiday, and we will pay for the cared for person to have care whilst they are away to enable the carer the have a break on their holiday with the person they care for.

Find out more about Direct Payments.

Carers' vouchers

Carers vouchers are another way for you to receive and arrange support. These are usually used for shorter breaks during the day, also known as a ‘sitting service’.

Each voucher is worth one hour of care and there is an agreed allocation per month. We can provide you with a list of approved home care agencies that will accept the vouchers. You can decide to take a short break each week or save up the vouchers and take a longer break, for example, a day per month. The vouchers are valid for three months from the date of issue. You will be able to arrange the care directly with your chosen agency and you give them the voucher(s) in exchange for the care they provide.

The agency you choose from the approved list to provide the care will arrange for someone to sit with the cared for person in their home while you take a break.

The sitting service is provided to you, the carer, to allow you to take a break. This means that if the cared-for person requires any type of service themselves (such as personal care which includes moving and handling, bathing etc), the relevant health or social services agency should be contacted to provide this.

Age UK (link opens in new window) offers a service for carers over the age of 50 to have a break in exchange for our vouchers. Services include:

  • sitting services (not personal care)
  • taking the cared-for person for a walk, to a garden centre etc.
  • help with shopping
  • gardening
  • housework

The Carers Respite Services Team at Age UK (Beds) can be contacted on 01234 360510 or by email: