Dementia is a diagnosed condition which is estimated to affect more than 750,000 people in the UK, and the numbers affected are increasing (AS, 2004). The majority of older people with dementia are cared for at home by a relative or friend. Caring for people with dementia is known to be physically and emotionally exhausting. Respite care aims to relieve carers of caring responsibilities in the short term, and offer a positive experience for the person being cared for. Despite the potential range of service models, carers and cared for often feel they have little choice in what is available. Since the Carers Special Grant was introduced in 1999, as part of the National Strategy for Carers (DH, 1999a), funds have been made available to local authorities to enhance services so that carers can take a break from caring. What, then, is known about what makes for effective and cost-effective service provision in this area? And how can policy-makers, managers and practitioners use this knowledge to deliver improved respite services for carers of people with dementia? This paper summarises a review of research evidence and consultations on this topic (Arksey et al., 2004).