ACCESS to respite breaks for all social care recipients and their carers needs extending, an influential committee has concluded.

North Yorkshire County Council’s care and independence scrutiny committee heard while the council’s carers strategy emphasised the importance of a carer being able to live a life outside of the caring role, there were numerous gaps in provision.

The meeting was told the county had “quite a traditional offer” weighted towards building-based and overnight stay respite services and to people with learning disabilities, rather than the wide range of people who receive social care.

Councillor Caroline Goodrick there was a clear gap in respite provision for dementia sufferers in some areas that needed addressing.

She said, as a result, she was among hundreds of people having to balance the demands of everyday life with those of being a carer and suggested more use could be made of the county’s growing number of extra care homes.

Cllr Goodrick said: “When it gets to the point where respite care is needed, carers need it immediately, not in six months time, because they have reached that pitch where they can’t cope any more.”

Councillor Stanley Lumley added while one-in-five of North Yorkshire residents were aged over 65 at present, in five years time the proportion would rise to one-in-three.

He said volunteers and community hubs were “absolutely essential” to meeting an exponential rise in demand for respite care.

Cllr Lumley said: “We need to nurture the volunteers and invest in those hubs to ensure they stay, because without them the burden on the council would be far greater.”

The committee’s chairman, Councillor John Ennis said carers’ inability to book respite care in advance for holidays was another issue that needed addressing.

He added developing a brokerage service, in which a range of expert support was offered, was a move worth considering for the council.