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Commissioner calls for a fundamental change to respite services in Wales

in News

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has called for a fundamental change in the way that respite services in Wales are thought about and delivered, following the publication of a new report highlighting the respite experiences of people affected by dementia.

The Commissioner’s Rethinking Respite report, published today (Thursday 26 April), makes clear that traditional respite services often lack the flexibility that people affected by dementia want and need, and often do not deliver positive outcomes. In the worst cases, respite services that do not meet people’s needs have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing and can strip them of their independence.

The report also shows, however, that flexible and person-centred respite brings a range of benefits to carers and people living with dementia, and that innovative approaches can often deliver better outcomes whilst offering better value for money.

The report’s findings are based on academic research and evidence gathered during a series of engagement sessions held across Wales with people affected by dementia, who shared their experiences of using respite services and gave their views on how respite services should be improved.

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira, said: “Whilst my report did identify a number of examples of good practice in delivering respite, too often it is focused on separation, on providing a ‘break from the burden of care’.

“But these traditional approaches often fail to meet people’s needs effectively, which is why we need to see a fundamental shift in thinking about the ways in which respite is delivered.

Happy older man sitting at home with a walking stick

“We need to see a fundamental shift in thinking about the ways in which respite is delivered.”

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira

“Respite services need to be easy to access, flexible and responsive, and should support people affected by dementia to maintain relationships, remain independent and engaged with their communities, and retain and develop new skills.”

The report sets out a range of action that is needed to improve respite, and the Commissioner has begun discussions with key organisations – including Social Care Wales and the Carers Learning and Improvement Network – to explore how the issues she has identified will be addressed. The Welsh Government has also made a commitment to use the findings of the Rethinking Respite report to inform the development of action that will be delivered under the Dementia Action Plan for Wales 2018-2022 and the Commissioner will work with the Cabinet Secretary to ensure this commitment is taken forward in a meaningful way.

The Commissioner added: “Although my report focuses specifically on the experiences of people affected by dementia, the issues identified affect many others who need respite.

“Without meaningful action to change the way we think about respite and understand the difference it can make, people’s health, wellbeing and independence will continue to be undermined, leading to significant costs to the public purse and, more importantly, unacceptable personal costs to individuals across Wales.”

Click here to read Rethinking for People Affected by Dementia

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