Adequate respite is essential for carers’ ability to cope, finds disability charity’s own research
The national disability charity Vitalise has thrown its weight behind the Alzheimer’s Society’s call for more financial support for families coping with dementia.
Responding to the new report issued today, Vitalise, which provides much-needed respite breaks for people coping with Alzheimer’s and dementia – as well as numerous other disabilities – is joining the Alzheimer’s Society in urging the government to end the artificial divide between health and social care which unfairly disadvantages people with dementia.
In support of the call, Vitalise is also highlighting its own research, which reveals the devastating effect on carers who do not have the lifeline of regular respite from caring. The study found that an astonishing 4 out 10 carers had not had any time off at all from their caring duties in the past year.
The research went on to paint a stark picture of the emotional and physical strain on carers who are unable to take breaks from their caring duties. 6 out of 10 said a lack of time away from caring led them to feelings of depression and that long periods without a break resulted in their getting angry at the person they care for. Over 8 out of 10 said they put the health of the loved one they care for before of their own health.
As part of its subsidised respite break provision for people with disabilities and carers, Vitalise provides specialist Alzheimer’s Weeks, which are devoted exclusively to people coping with Alzheimer’s and dementia, enabling them to spend quality time together in a supportive environment.
In recognition of the larger financial burden faced by dementia carers, these weeks are subsidised to a greater degree by Vitalise, with the charity bearing up to 60% of the cost. In addition, Vitalise offers extra discretionary funding for families in particular financial hardship.
Vitalise is backing the Alzheimer’s Society call for more financial support for families coping with dementia, but also calling on social care decision makers to ensure that access to regular respite breaks for people with disabilities and carers is regarded as a central pillar of social care provision, not an afterthought.
Commenting on the new report, Vitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds said:
“Vitalise is proud to echo the Alzheimer’s Society’s call for more financial support for dementia carers. There is clearly an artificial divide between health and social care which is putting people coping with this devastating condition at a disadvantage. This needs to be addressed.
“Regular respite from the duty of care is absolutely vital in enabling all carers to carry on coping, but dementia carers often have to break the bank just for the basic day to day care of their loved ones, meaning that the lifeline of time away from caring is effectively denied to them.
“We are doing our bit to support people with Alzheimer’s and dementia through our special Alzheimer’s Weeks, which enable couples coping with dementia to rest, recuperate and rediscover a loving connection.
“But our own research shows that unless carers have the escape valve of regular respite from caring, the consequences for them and those they care for could be dire.
“With the Prime Minister’s Challenge on dementia shortly to end and the new Care Act on its way in, now is the time to make the improvements that families affected by dementia so desperately need.
“Access to regular, good quality respite breaks for all people with disabilities and carers should not be a luxury but an absolute essential in enabling families affected by disability to carry on coping.”