Being the carer for a loved one with mental illness is both important and fulfilling; and the time spent together creates memories that will be forever cherished.
However, it can come with challenges too, so it is important to take some respite from the caring role.
It is just as important to remember you can’t do it all without looking after yourself too.
Being a caregiver, parent, sibling, daughter/son, partner, friend and work colleague all requires our time and energy and we cannot be the best version of ourselves for everyone else if we do not prioritise our own health and wellbeing.
So what exactly is respite and what does it look like?
Carer Gateway have defined respite as; when someone else talks care of the person you care for, so that you can have a break. A break can give you time to do everyday activities or just to relax, deal with stress and look after yourself¹.
Taking time to re-energise, relax and engage in things that bring joy, can assist carers in their caring role.
Below are seven carer respite benefits to consider if you are a carer;
- Renewal and Relaxation – going for a walk, getting some retail therapy, going to the movies or doing what brings you joy, can calm you, reduce stress and improve your mood.
- Energy – to be effective in a busy life, it’s important to take time to re-energize.
- Space – taking a break from caregiving even for just a few hours can help you relax and bring a renewed sense of purpose.
- Pleasure – being a caregiver, it’s important to remember you have the right to enjoy life and don’t need to feel guilty for doing so.
- Identity - it is essential to maintain your sense of self. You are important too!
- Perspective – having time away from your care giving role can allow you to see more clearly and keep things in perspective. It may even provide the chance to think of better ways of doing things and time to look at other resources.
- Engagement – social isolation is something caregivers often experience. It is important to take time to engage with your friends and family².
At CatholicCare Victoria, we provide respite opportunities through our Planned Respite Program and respite accommodation.
Mental Health Planned Respite
Planned respite provides a short-term change of environment for people with a mental illness and a break for their carers.
The program is designed to give both the carer and the person being cared for a break, and in taking time out to do things independently can support and improve the relationship between one another.
Planned respite can be tailored to the needs of the participant and the carer.
One of the opportunities is one-on-one respite within the home, where the carer can take some time away from the home to do tasks or have the time to do something that they enjoy, while the person being cared for enjoys time with the planned respite worker.
Or alternatively, the person being cared for can engage in community activities such as going to the cinema, art galleries, parks and gardens, local attractions or any other activities identified by the participant, providing the opportunity for the carer to have a couple of hours break at home.
A social group has also been formed between our planned respite participants. This provides an opportunity for those wanting to engage with other participants, the opportunity for social interaction, friendship and planned group activities.
During COVID restrictions, the social group have continued to meet over Zoom, providing social interaction at a time when it is important to continue to communicate with others and remain connected.
Apple Tree Haven – Respite Accommodation
Apple Tree Haven, named after the fruitful apple tree located on the property, provides short-term respite accommodation.
Located in Ballarat, Apple Tree Haven is a 1950’s residence accommodating for six people, that has been created for carers and their families to have a break.
A stay at Apple Tree Haven allows carers and their families to have time on their own to relax and recharge, with the option to also enjoy Ballarat’s attractions!
For more information or to book planned respite at Apple Tree Have Haven please phone our Ballarat office on (03) 5337 8999.
Our Mental Health Planned Respite program is offered in Ballarat, Hepburn Shire and Moorabool Shire. For more information about respite please see below:
Mental Health Planned Respite
Jenny Phillips | Marketing and Communications Officer
Paul Hartwood | Key Worker, Planned Respite