The importance of respite care

Sally, our Ward Sister on our In-Patient Unit, blogs about what respite care means.

When someone says hospice to you, you may not immediately think about respite care. Yet respite is one of the most important services we provide here at Martlets.

So what is respite? Respite can be up to a week of care for patients in our In-Patient Unit giving their carers a short break from their full time caring commitments. It can also be just a few hours a week with our Hospice at Home team going into patients homes and giving carers a short time away from being a carer

Put yourselves in the shoes of a carer

Maybe you have been married for 50 years and instead of enjoying a retirement with your long term spouse you find yourself feeding him, dressing his ulcers, emptying his catheter and being woken at night because he wants to walk around the garden.

Every day. Every night.

Maybe you are a young man of 29, married to your childhood sweetheart, but for the last 3 years have had to come to terms with a life limiting diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease. It’s your wife who has the diagnosis but it may as well be you. Two lives turned upside down. You have had to give up your very promising career in building design to toilet, feed and medicate your beautiful young wife.

Complex and confusing emotions fill your every hour.

Or maybe, after your first disastrous marriage, at 66 you have met someone new, found love, someone who you assume you’ll spend the rest of your life with. Both families are delighted. Yes, you’ll spend the rest of your life with him.

But at 68 a future of caring full time for someone with advancing Parkinsons has taken over. It seemed okay for a while, you muddle by together, had a few laughs, had a few tears, but now you are 78. You have been a carer for 10 years.

The laughs are few and far between now. And in fact, you’re a bit beyond tears too. Just totally, totally exhausted.

What it means

Our Hospice at Home respite service makes life tolerable for so many carers. Offering a few hours every week to take a short break. It doesn’t seem a lot but this is just time to get to the hairdressers, shops, doctors, coffee with a friend or catch up on sleep.

“I took the bus into Brighton and had a leisurely shop. No clock watching”

Our In-Patient Unit respite care offers a week’s break up to three times a year for fatigued carers – over the past year we’ve provided 45 weeks of respite care for patients and their carers.

“I took a weekend break to recharge my batteries. My husband feels confident and safe when he’s with you. The Martlets has enriched our life enormously”


“It enabled me to get our toilet fixed which was impossible when he was at home. And I was able to visit our children’s houses which are inaccessible for my husband.

When he came home I noticed he was much more alert and seemed happier in himself”


Further Information

Our respite care services are available to our current patients with complex palliative care needs and those referred to us by a district nurse, GP, a specialist nurse, social services or consultant at the hospital.

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