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Respite Care

Respite care is the provision of short-term accommodation in a facility outside the home in which a loved one may be placed. This provides temporary relief to those who are caring for family members, who might otherwise require permanent placement in a facility outside the home.

Respite programs provide planned short-term and time-limited breaks for families and other unpaid care givers of children with a developmental delay and adults with an intellectual disability in order to support and maintain the primary care giving relationship. Respite also provides a positive experience for the person receiving care. The term "short break" is used in some countries to describe respite care.

Even though many families take great joy in providing care to their loved ones so that they can remain at home, the physical, emotional and financial consequences for the family caregiver can be overwhelming without some support, such as respite. Respite provides a break for the family caregiver, which may prove beneficial to the health of the caregiver. 60% of family caregivers age 19-64 surveyed recently by the Commonwealth Fund reported fair or poor health, one or more chronic conditions, or a disability, compared with only 33% of non caregivers.

Respite has been shown to help sustain family caregiver health and well being, avoid or delay out-of-home placements, and reduce the likelihood of abuse and neglect. An outcome based evaluation pilot study showed that respite may also reduce the likelihood of divorce and help sustain marriages

In-home respite

In-home care is popular for obvious reasons. The temporary caregiver comes to the regular care receiver’s home, and gets to know the care receiver in his or her normal environment. The temporary caregiver learns the family routine, where medicines are stored, and the care receiver is not inconvenienced by transportation and strange environments. In this model, friends, relatives and paid professionals may be used. Depending on the state, Medicaid or Medicare may be used to help cover costs.

Respite (In-Home) Services means intermittent or regularly scheduled temporary non-medical care (which can be health care financed) and/or supervision provided in the person's home. In-Home Respite services are support services which typically include:

  • Assisting the family members to enable a person with developmental disabilities to stay at home
  • Providing appropriate care and supervision to protect that person's safety in the absence of a family member
  • Relieving family members from the constantly demanding responsibility of providing care
  • Attending to basic self-help needs and other activities that would ordinarily be performed by the family member

Respite (Out-of-Home) Services

Respite services are provided in the community at diverse sites, and by service providers which operate licensed residential facilities or bill under a category called respite.

Respite services typically are obtained from a respite vendor, by use of vouchers and/or alternative respite options. Vouchers are a means by which a family may choose their own service provider directly through a payment, coupon or other type of authorization. For more information about respite services contact your regional center representative.

Respite and community

Respite is an early service from the 1950s in which parents sought funding from the government for payments for specialized child care, called respite provided by the parent organizations themselves. Professional models of respite developed in the 1970s included community recreation options for the adults (e.g., at Ys, neighborhood centers, run and walks) as the parents had a "respite" or break from care giving (Racino, 2000). The state of New York has over 950 service providers in intellectual disabilities alone as of the mid-2000s (Castellani, 2005).