Breaks and respite care for carers

What is respite care?

If you are a carer you may need to take breaks. Respite care is when you can take a break from caring, and the person you care for is looked after by someone else. It can be covered by family members or an organisation so you can take a short break, a holiday or a rest. Respite care can be for carers of older people or people with different disabilities.

Repite care can cover different lengths of time such as:

  • A very short time, for example for an evening
  • Or a much longer arrangement, for example for a holiday

Respite care schemes are sometimes called 'Breakaway' or 'Friendship' schemes.

Where will the respite care be provided?

The person you care for will get respite care or temporary care in the community or in an institution. The availability of respite care depends on where you are located in the country –the respite care can be organised by your local Health Service Executive (HSE) area or by local or national voluntary organisations.

Respite care for older people may be in nursing homes or other institutional organisations.

Respite care for children with disabilities

Children with disabilities may be cared for in different ways during respite care, including:

  • With a family
  • One-to-one care with a carer
  • Overnights at residential facilities
  • At summer camps (this is included in the cost covered by the HSE)

Read more about caring for a child with a disability.

How to apply for respite care

Respite care is organised through your public health nurse or family doctor (GP).

Contact your local HSE Health office or Public Health Nurse to arrange an assessment of the health needs of the person you care for.

You can also go to a voluntary organisation for information on the respite care they provide.

Further supports for carers

You can apply for the Carer's Support Grant (formerly called the Respite Care Grant). This is a payment, you can get every year from the Department of Social Protection.

The Carer’s Support grant will be paid automatically to carers getting Carer's Allowance, Carer's Benefit, or Domiciliary Care Allowance.

Only one Carer’s Support Grant can be paid for each person getting care.

If you are not getting one of these payments, you can still qualify for the Carer’s Support Grant.

Family Carers Ireland have a network of carer groups across the country. You can find your local Family Carers Ireland - Network of Carer Group

Page edited: 20 July 2023