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Respite for Family Caregivers

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A Consumer's Guide to Respite for Family Caregivers

For additional information about Respite, click here to visit ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center.

Respite is:

Respite literally means a time of rest or relief. Respite care provides a family caregiver temporary relief from the constant responsibilities of caring for a dependent child or adult. Respite care is often referred to as a gift of time.

A Caregiver is:

A caregiver is the primary person or persons responsible for the day-to-day care of a dependent child or adult. An example of a caregiver is an adult visiting her aging mother daily to help with meals or other daily living activities or a parent’s consistent supervision and/or medical care of a young or grown up son/daughter.

Before You Get Started:

To be most effective, you should consider respite services much earlier than you think you will need them. Respite will be most helpful if you use it before you become exhausted, isolated, and overwhelmed by your responsibilities. Respite services can be beneficial, meaningful, and enjoyable to both the caregiver and the care receiver.

Family caregivers need to have sufficient and regular amounts of respite time. Respite needs to be meaningful and purposeful for caregivers to fulfill their needs and plans, as well as safe and enjoyable for the care receiver. Respite will give you a chance to step back and recharge.

Sometimes, you may need respite in emergencies to deal with a personal health crisis, housing or job loss, or other immediate situation that might put the care recipient in harm’s way. Emergency or crisis respite may be more difficult to find, so familiarizing yourself with providers who might offer emergency respite or even registering in advance with such providers, is important.

Types of respite:

The following descriptions are examples of respite program models. Not all program models are available in every state. Click on your state below or in the left navigation column to see what may be available.

In-home respite:

Many families prefer respite that is provided in the home. There are several advantages to in-home respite.
Following are some of the typical models used in in-home respite.

Home-based services
Home-based respite services may be provided through a public health nursing agency, a social service department, a volunteer association, a private nonprofit agency and/or a private homemaker service or home health agency.

You may find in-home respite workers who live near-by through the Rewarding Work registry.

Sitter-companion services
Sitter services may be provided by individuals who are trained in caring for children or adults with special needs. Often this type of service can be a project of a service organization or specialized agency (Camp Fire, Jaycees, Junior League, local ARC or United Cerebral Palsy Associations), which is willing to sponsor training and/or maintain a register of trained providers to link to families in need.

Consumer-directed respite
This model is similar to having a friend or relative volunteer to care for a child or adult with special needs. The person providing care is identified or selected by the family or individual and may be trained by a respite program or the families themselves.

You may find in-home respite workers who live near-by through the Rewarding Work registry.

To read about Out-of-Home respite programs and to obtain additional information about the many options of respite, click here.  Information is provided by the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center.

Click for Massachusetts respite information.

If you are a provider and wish to work as a respite worker, please complete an application.


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