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Time off

Types of breaks

As a carer, there are different ways you can take a break. The kind of break that will suit you will depend on your own needs and circumstances, as well as those of the person you look after.

Some carers may choose to go on holiday with the person they look after, and some may choose to go away alone. A short break or holiday may not always mean going away: some carers may enjoy taking a break at home while the person they look after goes away.

Your choice of break

Only you will know what type of holiday or break is best for you. Think about the kind of break you need as a carer and/or what kind of break the person you look after needs. You may be able to keep going if you just have a few hours to yourself on a regular basis, or you may need to get away for a week's holiday. The person you're looking after may need a change of scene or routine, or to mix with other people.

The local authority of the person you're looking after may be able to help you organise the many practical issues involved in having a short break or holiday. It may be able to arrange care for the person you look after, to enable you to have a break. It may be able to help you with the cost of a holiday or with other costs.

To find out more about accessing breaks through a social services assessment read about community care assessments and carers’ assessments, or read about funding care.

Holidays with the person you look after

Many carers choose to go on holiday with the person they care for. There are several voluntary organisations that can provide details of holiday accommodation that's suitable for the person you care for and yourself.

Tourism for All is a national charity that provides information on accessible holiday venues and places in the UK and abroad for disabled people, their carers and family.

Vitalise is a national charity that specialises in short breaks throughout the year for adults and children (aged six and older) with physical disabilities, dementia or sight impairment, and their carers. The charity has holiday centres around the UK, including Cornwall, Southampton and Southport. It also offers holidays in Spain and Germany.

Vitalise also offers short breaks for carers who want to go on holiday without the person they're looking after. All Vitalise centres are registered as personal care centres and most are also registered as nursing care centres. However, the charity does not have the resources to provide holidays for people who are bed-dependent; or who have uncontrolled epilepsy, learning difficulties, or mental health problems. See the Vitalise website for more information about the care provided at Vitalise centres.

The Disaway Trust is a registered charity that organises group holidays internationally and in the UK for people with physical disabilities aged 16 to 80 years and their carers.

Holidays for All is an umbrella website for various specialist tour companies and disability charities. Holidays for All has listings for a range of holiday providers who specialise in breaks for people with sensory and physical disabilities, their friends and carers around the UK and abroad.

Livability Holidays is part of a charity and offers a wide range of accessible hotel and self-catering holidays in the UK, located by popular seaside venues.

Disability Rights UK, has listings of places to stay in the UK and Ireland, including information on advice services, voluntary and commercial organisations, and transport for people with a wide range of disabilities.

Holidays for disabled children and families

If you're caring for a child with a disability, short breaks or holidays for the child can help benefit both you and the child. You may have other children who do not have a disability, and a short break for the disabled child can allow you quality time with your other children.

Organisations such as the Shared Care Network organise family-based short breaks that can help deal with the sense of isolation that some children with disabilities feel, by enabling them to meet new people, make new friends and become part of a "second family".

Your social services department, GP or health worker can provide a list of organisations that provide breaks for children with disabilities. They can make a referral for you to some of the organisations.

Many parents and carers of children with a disability prefer to take a short break or holiday with the child. There are many holiday centres and venues for children with disabilities and their families.

Family holiday venues

The Calvert Trust runs outdoor adventure activities in the countryside. These activities help children and adults with disabilities, with their families and friends, to fulfil their potential. The trust has three purpose-built centres with full-board or self-catering accommodation around the UK offering a range of sports and recreational activities.

The Scout Holiday Homes Trust provides affordable holidays for families, carers or groups who have a member with a disability, physical or mental or age-related illness. Their centres are located at popular holiday sites, with specially adapted accommodation for all families with a special need, low-income or single-parent families. You don't have to be connected to the scouting movement to benefit from these holidays.

You can get advice and information on charitable grants and other financial help with the cost of a holiday from the national charity Contact a Family. The charity has produced a useful guide called Holidays, play and leisure.

The Disabled Holiday Directory is an online directory of organisations and venues, both UK and abroad, that cater for children and adults with disabilities.

Holidays without the person you look after

You may want a holiday or short break without the person you care for. This could be with friends or relatives or on your own. Holidaying with friends or family can be very restful and relaxing as you all know each other and can support each other in making decisions.

But you may choose to go on a holiday on your own, where you won't know anybody else. Going on holiday alone is becoming more common and there are a growing number of holiday providers offering escorted holiday packages for single travellers.

Holiday specialist providers

Saga, the organisation for people aged 50 and older, has a range of holidays and short breaks to suit carers, including group holidays, holidays for single travellers, special interest holidays and cruises. Holidays are run throughout the year in the UK and abroad. Saga also offers free holidays for carers through the Saga Respite for Carers Trust.

There are services that will care for the person you look after if you go on holiday or for a short break alone. Your social services department can provide support and advice about what services are available. Your social services department may be able to arrange:

  • additional home care while you're away
  • extra visits to a day centre for the person you care for, or
  • a short stay in a residential care home for the person you care for


The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

indigo62 said on 05 September 2014

hi I suffer from M S my son is my carer he lives with me. my daughter lives in Japan and is getting married this year. because she lives in Japan I don't see her very often. she is getting married this year and her partner can pay for my air fair but he can't afford to pay my sons air fair. my son and I don't have the money for his fare as we are on bennifits. I can't go on my own as I would need the help from my son. this would be a realy special time for me to see my daughter getting married. does anyone know of any help I could get so I can be there on her special day

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catdancer said on 08 March 2012

I am a Carer for my 93 year old Mum, but I have a 13 year old Child and a dog. Though I am over 50 I can't leave them to go on the Saga break, is there anything available for us? I can only possibly manage a few days away from Mum and my Son is desperately in need of a bit of time with me. We haven't had a holiday in many years. Due to my caring role we are on Income Support so money is a huge issue.

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Paula1111 said on 14 January 2011

Vitalise do offer holidays for people with dementia actually.

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Eviex said on 23 September 2010

Yes Please, I would love a short break without my son..

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Page last reviewed: 19/08/2013

Next review due: 19/08/2015

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