What is Respite Care and Who Can Use It?

Respite care can be a great resource for those who are taking care of their loved ones at home. It gives the caretaker the opportunity to have time for himself or herself which makes them a better caregiver and a more healthy person. If you are taking care of a loved one at home, it can be a huge emotional and physical drain that can be difficult to handle. Respite care allows you to take some time for yourself and your personal committments, easing the burden and helping you better balance your life. This great article from Fountia.com goes over what exactly respite care is and how to use it.

Caring for a sick adult or a child with a disability full-time is, without a doubt, a tough job. One can be immensely overwhelmed with all the demands, whether emotional or physical, that full-time caregiving poses. That is why regular caregivers, particularly spouses, parents, or adult children, sometimes want to get temporary relief from their everyday duties.

How do they get this relief? Normally, they will procure the services of a professional care provider who offers respite care, which is temporary care given to those who are sick, injured or disabled. Oftentimes, respite care comes as an unpaid assistance provided by family members, friends, neighbors and other volunteers. Basically, respite care provides a needed break to caregivers.

Caregivers, therefore, can attend to their own personal commitments. Moreover, they can take time to relax, ease their stress and restore their energy. That’s why respite is also referred to as “a gift of time.” Respite care ensures, though, that utmost attention will still be provided to those who have special needs.

Respite care can be for a couple of hours, overnight, a few days, or for several weeks. Parents, for example, can take the night off and leave their child who has special needs to a respite care provider. Respite care can be offered in a residential home, adult day center, as well as, in a nursing facility.

Respite care can cover different services, such as skilled nursing, adult day care, and institutional care, although, the latter is usually for short-term only. The services that will be provided depend on specific needs, available funds, and the preferences of the respite care provider.

Who Needs Respite Care?

Respite care programs can provide services to anyone, regardless of age. These include the elderly, adults, and children.

  • Elderly- Seniors who have chronic illnesses, and other physical, as well as, mental disabilities are usually provided with respite care. Elderly respite service providers can make sure that frail seniors eat proper meals, take the necessary medication drugs or participate in therapy sessions. They can also accompany seniors as they perform their daily activities or even participate in social events. Seniors nowadays, it seems, are being taken care of at home more than ever.
  • Adults- Respite care programs offer assistance to those individuals who have disabilities or physical injuries that hinder them from taking care of themselves. For adults who have disabilities, the most suitable living situation would be a group home or any environment that can provide maximum support.
  • Children- Usually, children who have special needs attend after-school care or day care. These opportunities provide children means to interact with other kids, as well as, adults outside of their own families.

Respite care programs offer services to individuals who have the following conditions or needs:

  • Palliative care for the terminally ill
  • Acute care for recovery from surgery or illness
  • Outpatient services, such as counseling, physiotherapy and occupational therapy
  • Chronic care for functional disabilities or physical illnesses
    Specialized medical care for medical services, such as, antibiotic intravenous therapy and chemotherapy
  • Care for those who are at risk of neglect and abuse, especially children who are mentally retarded or HIV- positive
  • Care for individuals who are dependent on technology for survival, such as, those individuals who need dialysis, respiratory therapy and oxygen therapy

Every individual has his or her own specific needs. That is why respite care should suit these specific needs. These should be identified and be matched appropriately to the available respite care services. Sometimes, the information can even be used to develop services that are not in existence yet.

Importance of Respite Care

Respite care offers families and caregivers a needed break from the stresses brought by their duties. Caregiving can be a stressful experience. That is why respite care is always a relief, albeit, temporary. Aside from offering direct relief to caregivers, here are some of the benefits of respite care services:

  • Respite care can help reduce the risk of neglect. Families and caregivers may become so burned out they may neglect the needs of their loved one who is ill.
  • Respite care offers peace of mind. Regular caregivers can relax knowing their loved one is being cared for by a professional.
  • Respite care can improve the caregivers capacity to handle daily responsibilities. Oftentimes, the primary caregiver just needs time to catch up on other things.
  • Families can achieve stability, especially during crisis. Having respite care can help achieve family unity.
  • It allows families to become less isolated from their own communities or localities because they can still participate in different social activities.
  • Caregivers can pursue their favorite activities or try new pastimes. Providing caregiving 24/7 may leave no time for ones own hobbies and interests.
  • Caregivers need to establish their own identities. Caregiving, especially when full-time, can deprive an individual of pursuing their own personal and professional goals.

If you have been working as a regular caregiver, ask yourself these questions: When was the last time you took a break? Have you awarded yourself with a vacation in the past year? Have you been neglecting the needs of other family members or have they been complaining about your lack of time for them?

Caregivers should recognize they also have their own saturation points. They can get stressed out tremendously, possibly affecting the quality of their caregiving services. With all the physical and emotional challenges they have to face every day, they may easily experience burnout.

This can then lead to frustration; they may give up on their caregiving duties, straining the relationship with the person they are taking care of. This can be especially emotionally damaging to children or the elderly.

Below are some scenarios that may apply to you. If any of the scenarios sounds like you, perhaps its time to consider your options for respite care. You shouldnt have to always deprive yourself of “me” time. You should try to take a break from your caregiving responsibilities and enjoy some stress-free hours.

  1. My caregiving duties affect my personal projects. I have not been doing the activities that I used to love for a long time now. I have not pursued any of the opportunities that can help improve my professional standing either. It is hard to schedule impromptu appointments or attend activities because I always worry about the health condition as well as personal needs of my loved one, who is left at home.
  2. My relationship with my spouse, children, or siblings is getting strained. For a long time, I have not spent quality time with them. They have been complaining that I have been neglecting them. Scheduling a dinner date or a weekend getaway can become problematic, too. Every single day, I have to make sure that the person I am taking care of receives the utmost attention. That is why I do not leave his or her side.
  3. Seeking immediate help during the onset of a family emergency is one of my concerns. I do not know who to trust. Some of my family members or willing volunteers are not really familiar regarding personal, medical or therapeutic care. They can lend a helping hand, but their duties are limited. I need someone whom I can trust in administering medications, providing therapy, and delivering services, which can range from meal preparation to skilled nursing.
  4. I feel that I can better nurture my loved one who has special needs if I take a break once in a while. I feel stressed out that I sometimes space-out or flare up when providing assistance. This should not be the case every time I have to provide care for my loved one. When providing medical care, there should be no room for error. Also, my loved one would sense my anxiousness. Those who are sick are sensitive, so I should not strain their emotions.

This article is from Fountia.com, see their website for more interesting information.

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