Skip to content

Key messages – adult carers

  • Breaks are essential – they make a real difference enabling carers to continue caring and to maintain their own health and wellbeing. They support positive relationships.  Good breaks, as part of a range of support, help prevent ill-health, stress, isolation, crisis and breakdown.
  • The value of carers’ support was estimated at £139 billion per year before the COVID-19 pandemic (DEMOS, 2018) and £193 billion per year during the pandemic (Carers UK, 2020). Good strategic commissioning will invest in effective breaks to meet needs and personal outcomes and to prevent escalation of needs – thereby saving resources across the system.
  • Many carers do not get a break. Pre-pandemic, forty-six per cent had not been able to take a break from caring in the last five years. Breaks are often not discussed in assessments. Many carers do not know what is available or have concerns about costs, quality, suitability or the difficulty of arranging breaks.   
  • Commissioners should determine what breaks are needed and wanted locally. Good commissioning will seek to understand diversity of needs, ensure co-production and facilitate partnerships with stakeholders and providers to develop a positive local breaks offer.
  • Carers need a genuine choice of breaks. Market shaping by commissioners and good business planning by providers – including diversifying services – can help deliver this choice. Flexible funding can help local groups and social enterprises to deliver tailored, innovative solutions and improve equality of access to breaks.
  • Carers need information and advice about breaks. Good assessments and peer support can improve carers’ knowledge of what is available, what is possible and help them make informed choices. Personal budgets can enable carers to tailor breaks that work for them and their situation.
  • Breaks can be many different things – from short breaks in residential care, sitting services, through to family holidays, shared activities or time out to relax. Good breaks are personalised, planned, offer flexibility, a positive experience and are enjoyable. Support to enable carers to sleep or attend medical appointments is not a break.
  • There are excellent examples of varied and innovative breaks and resourcing options. The practice examples also show how local businesses and leisure services can be part of a creative offer.
  • Good providers involve carers in improving their services and breaks offer. Their workforce has the right skills to build trust with carers and enable those they care for to have a positive experience. There is excellent communication about the break and time to adjust to taking a break.
  • For information, support and advice about taking a break, please encourage carers to visit Supporting you to take a break (Carers UK, 2019). This includes videos of carers talking about their experiences and tips, factsheets, carer stories and links to an online forum for carers.