If you’ve been caring for a family member or a friend for any period of time, you may have heard the term ‘respite.’

Respite, simply defined, is taking a break from caregiving.

The ‘Official’ Definition

Formal and informal, in-home and out-of-home respite options may exist in your locality. Respite programs may utilize an available bed in a health care facility for families who require extended respite options and whose family member or friend requires skilled care; whereas, other respite programs may only offer time-limited (a few hours) services in the family’s home.

In addition, respite services may be available to families through formal programs that hire and train their staff or may be available to families through informal networks (e.g., volunteer or faith-based initiatives, parent cooperatives, or cash subsidies from states to purchase respite through relatives and friends).

Respite services are usually offered on a sliding fee schedule, or there may be a combination of family fees, state, and federal funding, including Medicaid waivers, and/or private insurance.

Source: ABCs of Respite: A Consumer Guide for Family Caregivers. ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center. https://archrespite.org/images/docs/ABCs_of_Respite/ABCsofRespite.pdf

How to Get Respite

You can receive respite informally:

  • receiving respite from a caring relative, friend, neighbor, or a fellow member of your faith community so you can do something else
  • creating opportunities for your loved one to occupy themselves at home or in the community so you can do something else
  • using technology to keep an eye on your loved one if they are able to stay on their own safely so you can do something else

You can get respite as a service by:

  • accessing informal networks (e.g., volunteer or faith-based initiatives, parent cooperatives, or cash subsidies from states to purchase respite through relatives and friends).
  • purchasing in-home respite services privately—either hiring caregivers directly or working with an agency that provides care, or 
  • paying for respite in a facility—like a day program or a long-term stay at a nursing facility

All so you can…. yes, you guessed it! Go do something else!

Respite happens in many different ways, but one thing is for certain – the best kind of respite is when both care partners have a good time. The caregiver gets a break from their caregiving responsibilities, and the care recipient is able to spend time doing things they enjoy with someone who they also enjoy.

When everyone is having a good time, nobody is worried about what the other person is doing 😉 

Below are a couple of examples of how one family caregiver got creative with her definition of ‘respite.’

If are in the Kansas City area and you’re caring for a loved one, you might need help thinking through respite for yourself. We can help you figure out what needs to happen for you to take the break you deserve.

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