Vitalise’s respite lifeline for people with disabilities and carers

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23rd January 2014

Charity announces new respite and funding opportunities as shock survey highlights strain on UK’s carers

A new survey by Vitalise has revealed the incredible strain on the UK’s 6.5 million carers as the disability charity unveils its range of essential respite opportunities for 2014.

The Vitalise survey of carers paints a shocking picture of the emotional and physical strain on carers who get insufficient respite from their caring duties. 6 out of 10 (58%) respondents said that when they were not rested they sometimes became depressed and the same number (59%) said they sometimes got angry at the person they care for. Over half of the respondents (53%) said they would probably end up breaking down completely if they never had the chance to take any time off from caring.

Yet an astonishing 4 out of 10 carers (39%) have not taken a single day off from caring in the last year.

In the light of the survey’s shock findings, and as Vitalise unveils its new range of accessible breaks for people with physical disabilities and carers in its UK Breaks Brochure 2014, the charity is offering a funding lifeline for those in most desperate need of respite.

In addition to subsidising all of its breaks through its own fundraising efforts to make them as affordable as possible to all, Vitalise will be also offering additional discretionary funding throughout 2014, enabling people in particular financial hardship to take much-needed breaks with Vitalise. The charity’s Joan Brander Memorial Fund, set up in memory of the charity’s founder, is used every year for this purpose. Vitalise is urging those who think they might be eligible to come forward.

Significantly, the survey also highlighted the barriers preventing carers from seeking respite. Among the biggest barriers were carers’ concerns that nobody else would be able to care for their loved ones (46%) and worries that they would not be looked after properly in a care home (23%). As a consequence, over a fifth (21%) of carers who had put their loved ones into temporary care said that afterwards they felt guilty that they had left them in order to take time off.

In response to carers’ concerns over the quality of respite care for their loved ones, Vitalise is once again offering a wide range of inclusive, activity-focused respite break opportunities for people with disabilities in 2014. The charity is also renewing its call for urgent action to address the issue of quality in respite care in order to assuage carers’ fears of respite and encourage more carers to take advantage of respite opportunities.

Among the many themes and activities offered by Vitalise at its three UK centres are breaks devoted to music, arts & culture, sport and outdoor pursuits. New themed weeks have been added to the Vitalise range for 2014, including Everybody Dance, Fairgrounds & Festivals and Swimming, Skating & Sailing, plus optional day excursions to France and the Isle of Wight.

In addition to accessible excursions, in-house activities include the Paralympic sport Boccia, as well as accessible Zumba and dance fitness classes. Nightly entertainment completes the Vitalise experience.

The aim of Vitalise’s breaks is to improve the quality of life of people affected by disability through socially inclusive programmes of activity which are designed to restore their confidence, wellbeing and capacity to cope.

Vitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds said:

“This survey not only highlights the importance of regular time off from caring for the UK’s carers, but also the equally important issue of quality in care.

“Clearly, many carers don’t feel confident about putting their loved ones in care even for just a few days, because they seem to have little faith in the quality or suitability of what’s on offer.

“Vitalise has been providing respite breaks for 50 years now, so we know that carers simply won’t let themselves switch off from their caring role if they are not convinced that their loved ones are having an enriching and revitalising holiday experience. We firmly believe that the concept of respite applies every bit as much to the person with the disability as it does to the carer.

“This is why, with our new programme of breaks for 2014, we will carry on treating people with disabilities as individuals who share the same needs, desires, hopes and aspirations as the rest of us – and doing our very best to give them the opportunity to fulfil their dreams.

“I hope the way we do things serves as an example of how all respite care should be in the future.”

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