Carers Corner

Respite Care

This is something we all hope will not be necessary for any of us but we have to be realistic – we all get older and people with diabetes can get complications and the care they need increases. This can be tiring and stressful for the carer. 

What is respite care?
It is a break for the carer. It can either be for a few hours a week just to get out of the house and have time to yourself or it may be necessary to have a couple of week’s break from caring. Whichever is the case, the break can only be a rest if you know that your partner is being well cared for by people who have sufficient knowledge of diabetes. 

Is respite care available and how do I find it?
The first step is to actually admit to yourself that you need a break. This is not always easy because it can feel as if you are not coping. You can feel guilty because you are not doing all the caring. But it is important to remember that a break, even for a few hours a week, may well enable you to be a greater help to your partner because you feel better.

Respite care is not easy to obtain because if there is a shortage of funds within Social Services then it is often respite care that is cut back. It is granted on the needs of the person being cared for, not the carer. Equally, suitable residential care is not easy to find because of the needs of people with diabetes – as we all know it is not just a matter of providing a ‘diabetic diet’!

Quote from a carer: “I look after my 90 year old uncle who has diabetes and from time to time I need a break to recharge my batteries. He can be difficult, especially when hypo. My last experience of residential care has made it difficult for me to leave him where I feel he is properly cared for. One morning he was not given his morning injection because he was being violent. The carers in the home would not go near him and did not call a doctor. Needless to say,  he was having what for him, was a typical hypo and they didn’t give him his breakfast either!”

To find out about the availability of respite care in your area contact

  • Social Services
  • Your GP or district nurse
  • Voluntary organisations such as the Carers Association, Age Concern, Cross Roads.

Remember – respite care will only be a break for you if you can leave the person you care for with people you are happy with, so do not accept something that is not satisfactory. Check that they know about diabetic care. If you spend your free time worrying about the care your partner is getting, then your break will be wasted.