What is Respite Care? By: Kathryn Kring, RN, BSN, MSN of CareTrak Home Care LLC
Many people provide care and assistance to their elderly parents, family members, friends or neighbors, enabling them to remain at home for as long as possible. These dedicated caregivers need time off to relax, regroup and tend to their personal responsibilities. Respite care (or relief care) offers caregivers the opportunity for down time. There are many sources of care that fall under the umbrella of respite care.
The most commonly used respite care sources are home care agencies, volunteer help, adult day care programs and respite care facilities. Home care agencies provide a variety of services that can be accessed for a few hours per day up to 24 hours, 7 days per week. Short term and long term respite care is often available. The greater flexibility the home care agency has, the greater opportunity the caregiver has to take time off to suit their needs. This may mean a few hours off to keep an appointment or have lunch with a friend, or a longer time away to take a vacation.
Home care respite offers a variety of services that can be used alone or in conjunction with other services. For example, a companion can:
- visit and engage the individual in conversation, activities or hobbies
- remind the individual to take medications
- accompany him or her outside the home for shopping, appointments or entertainment
- provide light housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, errand and other support services.
A personal caregiver can:
- assist the individual with bathing, grooming and dressing
- motivate the individual to exercise and provide supervision
- assist with toileting
- provide the companion level services mentioned above.
Skilled care, if needed, may include medical or nursing needs and even medication administration.
Many home care agencies provide 24 hour live-in help for the caregiver who needs a vacation. Respite care facilities may also admit the individual on a temporary basis as an alternative to at-home respite care.
Volunteer respite help is often provided by family members, friends, neighbors or church members who come in to stay with a senior so that the primary caregiver can work, run errands, tend to their own personal responsibilities or just have time to relax. Local councils on aging often run "visitor" programs comprised of volunteers who are available to provide companionship in the home. Some individual cities and towns have respite care information on their websites.
Often caregivers must work during the day and are only available to provide care in the evenings and on weekends. Adult daycare programs offer a safe and stimulating daytime environment for individuals who cannot be left alone. Transportation is often available through the local council on aging office or privately for a fee.
The cost of respite services varies depending upon the agency or provider. Some long term care polices cover these expenses and, in some areas, federal or state programs may provide financial assistance.
Respite care is as much about the caregiver as it is about the person receiving care. It is respite care that allows the caregiver to continue in their care giving role without burnout.
Use our Respite Caregiver Checklist and get the peace of mind that you need to entrust your loved one to a respite caregiver.