Becoming a respite carer

respite care

29/10/2013 12:00am

Find out more about becoming a respite carer with our handy guide below. 


What is respite care?

Respite care provides short-term placements for children with the same carer. Ideal for families, couples or singletons who work, respite care usually takes place on weekends or during school holidays in order to support an existing foster carer or family member.

The placement period can vary according to the needs of the child or the existing carer and their family.

In some situations, a respite carer may be asked to look after a child during an overnight stay; or an evening after school; however there may be some instances where a respite carer may be asked to support a child for a longer period of time; however this never exceeds more than four weeks.

Respite care is flexible meaning the carer can regulate their level of commitment. 

Why might a child be in respite care?

Respite care supports children up to 14-years-old who have been involved in a family trauma or crisis within their own family. In other cases, children may be from very deprived homes and may suffer from neglect.

Under these circumstances, children may feel angry and upset causing them to become aggressive or unresponsive. The carer is to provide support and assistance to what could be, an emotionally disturbed child.  

Respite care also supports families who are experiencing high levels of stress who need a short break every now and then.

Normally these families may be caring for their child or children who are disabled or suffering with special needs.

A child will be linked with a respite carer, enabling the family of the child to have regular short-breaks to relax and unwind. This may take place during the school holidays, or alternate weekends.  

What requirements does respite carer need?

In order to be considered as a respite carer, you must possess the following qualities:

  • Energy
  • Patience
  • Tolerance
  • Sensitivity
  • Compassion
  • Commitment
  • Flexibility

To be a committed respite carer, you will need to:

  • Attend monthly support training sessions
  • Meet all statutory and reference checks

Why might I not be suitable?

People will not be considered suitable as a respite carer if:

  • You or a family member have a criminal conviction
  • You are waiting to adopt
  • You have a child looked after by a local authority
  • You already do respite work for another agency

Case Study – respite to long-term foster placement

After a few successful respite sessions, Robert aged 11 was placed with Diane from the 18th March 2008.

His placement with Diane was extended as it was felt that Robert would benefit from having one consistent carer to provide on-going support and assistance. This helped alleviate the pressure that had arose in Robert’s family home.

During Diane’s care, Diane noticed some characteristics in Robert which matched symptoms of ADHD and Aspergers Syndrome. Robert began to manifest an obsession with girls’ clothing in June 2008.

He found boys’ clothing ‘disgusting,’ and developed a fascination with girls’ shops, magazines and skimpy girls’ clothing.  

After recognising Robert’s needs and obsessions, it became evident that Robert was experiencing issues related to his gender. 

Diane referred Robert to The Tavistock Clinic, which supports children and their families who are struggling to develop their gender identity. 

Currently, Diane takes Robert to the Tavistock Clinic every month to help support Robert as he reaches puberty. 

Diane’s continuous support has made it easier for Robert to talk about his feelings. Instead of bottling up his distress, Diane’s trust has shown Robert than he can confide in her about his issues. 

Robert is soon to be placed with Diane on a long-term basis due to the feedback from Robert’s social worker, psychiatrist and school, who are all equally pleased with his progress. 

How do I apply?

If you are interested in being a respite carer, contact us by telephone 0845 200 4040 and we’ll send you an information pack with an application form.