American model for respite care proves successful in Scotland
Hundreds of families have benefited from a pilot increasing the number of short breaks for full-time unpaid carers, it has been revealed.
In 2016, the Respitality initiative has allowed 564 unpaid carers and a companion to take a break, gifted by the tourism industry, at hotels, guest houses, leisure clubs and restaurants.
In addition, the Scottish Government has allocated more than £20 million from 2010-2017 towards the Short Break Fund, administered on behalf of national carers organisations by Shared Care Scotland.
Speaking ahead of 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.”
Respitality (respite and hospitality) originated in the USA and provides a way for carers centres and the Scottish hospitality sector to work together to provide holiday breaks.
Don Williamson, chief executive of Shared Care Scotland, said the Respitality project is expanding steadily across Scotland giving more unpaid carers the chance of a well-deserved break.
“Scottish Tourism Week gives us an opportunity to both thank the sector for their wonderful generosity, and we hope persuade more businesses to come on board,” he said.
Wendy has cared for husband who is very disabled by MS for more than 26 years. It has been more than 10 years since she has had a break from her caring.
Through her contact with the Carers Centre, Wendy expressed interest in Respitality and was put on the list.
Wendy says “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 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.”