Why Carers Need a Respite

carer respite

26 Apr Why Carers Need a Respite

Caring for a loved one can be a big change, with many extra responsibilities and expectations. The position can be challenging at times, affecting the physical, mental, and emotional health of the carer, which is why carers need respite.

A carer is someone who helps and supports a person through a disease or disability such as cancer.1 Carers come in all shapes and sizes and can be a partner, a friend, a sibling, or a neighbour – anyone can become a carer, but the constant factor is that a carer is someone who provides support to an individual at no cost.

Research shows that carers often experience higher levels of distress than the person with cancer.2  Common reactions are fear, anger and frustration, stress, loneliness, guilt,  depression but also satisfaction, love and pride. Such a range of emotions combined with the demands of physical care can be overwhelming.  Caring for someone can be very rewarding, but also physically and emotionally tiring. It is important to take a break and have some time to yourself. It can benefit both you and the person you care for.2

There are many strategies to help carers remain healthy and regular breaks or respite from caring can help relieve the stress and exhaustion they may feel. All of us need time out sometimes. Caring for a relative can be tiring and taking breaks can help you deal with the stress that you might sometimes feel. Having time out can also be a good thing for the person you are caring for – they can try new things, a chance to have some time to themselves, and feel ok knowing you as the carer are taking some time for yourself. These breaks, usually called ‘respite’, can be provided to you by another family member or a friend, or by a service that might organise or pay for it.3

 Asking for and accepting assistance is sometimes difficult.4  This is why open and honest communication is important as it allows others to understand what is going on. Carers must care for themselves, to help relieve any stress, anxiety, fatigue and to ensure that their own sense of identity remains. Healthy eating, adequate sleep, exercise, talking with friends or family, organising and prioritising their time and asking for help will ensure carers do not ‘burn out’.  Carers need access to high quality and flexible services that support the caring role including training, information, financial and employment as well as their own social, physical, and emotional support.

Solaris understands carers need assistance and that the primary carers of cancer patients can access the complimentary services provided in our centres. We also run a free one-day workshop, designed to provide carers with the knowledge and practical skills to benefit all involved in caring relationships. Other services available to carers are counselling, ‘Care and Share’ morning teas through Carers WA, retreats and respite events.

Supporting the emotional and physical health of carers will improve the overall well-being of the individual but also positively influence the experiences of the person they are caring for.

Carers are able to access the services provided by all Solaris Cancer Care Centres. We also run a free, one-day workshop ‘The Carers Course‘ for all carers providing information and practical skills. For more information please contact us.


  1. Cancer Council ‘Caring for Someone with Cancer’ 2011
  2. https://www.carergateway.gov.au/why-are-breaks-important
  3. http://www.carersaustralia.com.au/storage/WhoCares_A5_update_.pdf
  4. Cancer Council ‘Caring for Someone with Cancer’ 2011