Respite services can give carers a much needed break from caring. However, ensuring services are responsive to needs is easier said than done. Following on from a survey DSDC shared in September 2018 about choices around taking respite, this blog provides a research update as a big thank you for all those who took part. It also asks, what do we know now?
The ultimate aim of the survey was to find out more about what access unpaid carers of older adults have to respite and replacement care in Scotland, and what they value in a respite service. It is part of an ESRC funded PhD project, which, if want to find out more about, you can read about it here.
Responses are in, and the time has come to get busy with counting! 126 people took part in the survey- representing a range of local authorities (from Glasgow to Lewis), family and friend care relationships (neighbours to partners), and from caring a few hours a week to the equivalent of a full-time job.
Just under a half (40%) of carers said they have had support from a social worker. Fewer (26%) stated ever receiving funds to have a short break from caring, with interesting patterns for access to short breaks funds by who you care for.
This is despite the fact that a short break- alongside advocacy and practical support- emerged as a key form of support when respondents were asked to rank their preferred types of support.
Whilst the sample size arguably isn’t large (and so it is important not to draw generalisations for carers across the whole of Scotland), each response was incredibly valuable since each person answered several hypothetical choice questions- giving 1,120 judgements about respite and replacement care. The next stage of the analysis will involve looking across the hypothetical choices made by respondents about their favourite replacement care packages to see which aspects were valued most, and which factors put them off.
Across Scotland there is growing awareness that unpaid carers are central to our families and neighbourhoods, as well as play a critical part in our health and social care system. Ensuring unpaid carers have access to the right support is a key and recurring policy question.
The University of Stirling is well recognised for its contribution to better understanding the patterns and pressures of providing unpaid care, in particular, to older people. Along with many organisations across Scotland, the DSDC also provides a range of information, advice and training to carers to help with everyday tasks. If you are an unpaid carer and want to see what events are coming up in your area, visit the DSDC’s new online information hub here.
So stay tuned, particularly if you took part, for further findings and information about how the research might be used. And thank you again- your time counted!
~ Nadine Thomas, PhD student