Hundreds of Scottish families have been shown to have benefited from an American adapted model for respite care, who’s goal has been to increase the number of short breaks available to full-time unpaid carers.

Back in 2016, Scotland’s respitality initiative successfully allowed 564 unpaid Scottish carers to take a break from dedicating their time to caring for a loved one. The scheme, which is adapted from the American model of respite care, allows carers to step away from the care role briefly by giving them options to take a short break.


Short breaks

There are numerous short-breaks available to carers. These short breaks are often provided by Scotland’s own tourism industry. Some short-breaks include stays at hotels, guest houses, leisure clubs and restaurants. All of the breaks are provided for free to the carer.

Many of these short breaks are also helped funded by the Short Break Fund. Between 2010 and 2017, the Scottish government has allocated more than £20 million ($32) towards the fund, which is administered on behalf of national carers organisations by Shared Care Scotland.

Inclusive Tourism

Speaking in relation to the Scottish Tourism Week and a Parliamentary debate on inclusive tourism, Tourism Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, said: “Inclusive tourism recognises the need for everyone to be able to have a holiday or a break from their everyday routine, which can bring both social and economic benefits.”

“Scotland has an active portfolio of initiatives that are trying to include many different social groups into tourism that would otherwise be excluded.”

“Short breaks provide significant benefits for carers, helping them to have a break away from their caring responsibilities to recharge their batteries and have a little time for themselves.”


Wendy’s success story

One success story is that of Wendy, who last year, through the Respitality initiative, was able to take a much-needed short break away from her caring role. Wendy has been caring for her husband for over 26 years. Her husband is disabled by multiple sclerosis, requiring Wendy to almost constantly be at his side.

It had been 10 years since Wendy had had a break from her caring role, but thanks to the Respitality initiative, she was gifted with an overnight stay for herself and a friend at a renowned 5-star hotel.

When asked about her short-break experience, Wendy said: “I was very lucky to be offered a one night stay at the Fairmount in St Andrews and I was able to take a friend with me. My family chipped in to look after my husband so I could go with an easy mind although I did feel anxious because I have never had a break away from him before."

She later added: “When I got home I felt totally relaxed and ready to take on my caring role again. Even my husband noticed how well I looked, rested and relaxed, not stressed. He said it made him feel better that I had a chance to get a break and be pampered.”

"Even now, when I have a hard day, I think about my break and smile.”


The American Model

The Respitality initiative is based on the system of respite care found in America. The idea of respite and hospitality for carers originated in the USA and allows carer and respite centres to work with the hospitality sector to help provide short breaks to carers.