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The Alzheimer’s Society has published a report on the provision of respite care and carer’s assessments for people affected by dementia. It looks closely at carers’ access to breaks and the barriers to getting them.

The key findings show:

  • There is a lack of dementia-appropriate services available for carers of people living with dementia to access when they need a short break
  • The shortage of appropriate respite places and care providers, and the difference in views between the carer and person receiving care as to whether they access the support, adds further to the stress of trying to get a break
  • Only a minority of carers have received a Carer’s Assessment, which they are entitled to by law if they are providing significant hours of care
  • Of those carers that have received an assessment, their experiences are mixed. Some carers reported that assessments can feel impersonal, providing telephone assessments and difficult conversations being managed badly as examples. It was reported that face-to-face assessments provided a more positive experience.
  • Few participants reported feeling as though their wishes around work and personal life were taken into consideration, with reports of carers feeling a loss of identity and seen as a carer rather than an individual. Carers also reported wanting more guidance on the support that is available.

Commenting on the research, Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, said:

“Alzheimer’s Society’s research comes at an important time when a significant number of carers looking after relatives with dementia are experiencing unbearable pressure, having been unable to get a break for months because of limited face to face day services as a result of Covid-19.

“Breaks are absolutely vital for carers’ health and wellness, especially parent carers and dementia carers who look after loved ones with complex conditions that often require round the clock care. It is essential that breaks services are reestablished as a matter of priority for Government, with sufficient funding for providers to do this meeting social distancing rules.

“Like Alzheimer’s Society, we would like to see robust data recorded on carer’s assessments and carers’ breaks to help see how well they are being promoted to carers in local areas. It is imperative that every carer who needs a carer’s assessment gets one so that they don’t have to struggle on alone.

“After decades of underinvestment in social care, breaks services are dwindling and aren’t meet the rising demand for them. Long term funding and reform of our social care system would help transform the lives of families by giving them access to good quality care and respite services.”

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