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When you’re caring for someone full-time or for long periods, you need to have breaks otherwise you may start to feel stressed, resentful or even unwell.
You can ask your key worker about respite care for the person you’re looking after. Respite care allows you to get a break - for a few hours, an evening or a week or two.
Sometimes your key worker can arrange for someone to sit with the person you look after, to give you a break for a few hours in the day, or an evening off. Occasionally, sitters can stay overnight. Some sitters will also help with light housework or personal care.
You may be asked to make a contribution towards the cost of this help if you can afford it.
The local hospice| or hospital may run a day centre for people with cancer. The day centre may be able to look after your relative or friend for a few hours in the morning or afternoon, and sometimes all day. The centre may provide lunch and some centres offer other services, such as bathing and some complementary therapies. Usually transport is provided.
There may be a charge for some of the services provided.
There will be times when you need more than a few hours off, or an evening’s break. Recognising when this is needed can be very important. If you need a break, the key worker may be able to arrange for the person you’re caring for to go into a hospice, hospital, residential home or private nursing home for a short while.
Obviously this is a decision you will have to make jointly with the person you are caring for. They may even be the one to suggest it if you’re getting very tired. Both of you might enjoy the change of scene and company. After a few days’ break, you may both feel rested and better able to manage at home again.
Before you make a decision, you, the person you’re looking after, and perhaps other members of the family or friends, might find it reassuring to go and see the hospital, home or hospice and talk to the staff.
In another type of respite care, a carer will come to the person’s home to enable you to get away for a while. This may be suitable if the person with cancer doesn’t want to leave their home or is unable to do so.
To find out what is available locally, ask your key worker or a local support group. Crossroads| has a national network of home respite carers working through local authorities and their services are mostly provided free of charge.
Content last reviewed: 1 March 2011
Next planned review: 2013
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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