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Respite Care: Information & Services

  • Synopsis: Information on respite care including explanation of services offered plus listings of care services and respite resources.

Definition: Defining the Meaning of 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.


In home Respite

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:

  • Relieving family members from the constantly demanding responsibility of providing care
  • 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
  • Attending to basic self-help needs and other activities that would ordinarily be performed by the family member

Out of Home Respite

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.

Main Document

What is Respite Care

Respite care is the provision of short-term, temporary relief to those who are caring for family members who might otherwise require permanent placement in a facility outside the home.

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

Respite can take place in a variety of settings including your own home. It might be for a few hours a day at a day center; or for a few days, a weekend or a couple of weeks in a residential home or with a family approved through the Adult Placement Service A sitting service at home can also sometimes be arranged, depending on your circumstances.

In the United States today there are approximately 50 million people who are caring at home for family members including elderly parents, and spouses and children with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses. Without this home-care, most of these cared for loved ones would require permanent placement in institutions or health care facilities.

When you are taking care of somebody you also need to think about caring for yourself. Respite is the service most often requested by family caregivers, yet it is in critically short supply, inaccessible, or unaffordable regardless of the age or disability of the individual needing assistance.

Family members and friends may be able to help out while you run an errand, take a break or even go on vacation. However, just as the burden of caregiving is often more than one person can handle, it can also be a tough process for families to share. Depending on the type and intensity of care needed, your own health and well-being can be compromised by looking after someone else. Respite care is a chance for you and the person you care for to take a break. This can be:

Respite care should always be geared to individual family needs by identifying the type of respite needed and matching the need to the services currently available, or using this information to develop services where none exist. Once identified, it is also important for families to have ready access to that type of respite, in an affordable form.

There are various models for providing respite care including:

Respite care services are offered through community organizations, agencies or residential care facilities. The most common respite care services are in-home care and adult day centers.

States and communities are recognizing that respite care also benefits them. On average, the costs for respite services are 65 to 70 percent less than the costs of maintaining people in institutions. The cost effectiveness of respite services allows scarce tax dollars to be used for additional community based services.

United States Congress passed The Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2006 (HR 3248) which was signed into law in December 2006. The bill was introduced and championed in the US House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ) and James Langevin (D-RI). A companion bill in the Senate was cosponsored by Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Senator John Warner (R-VA).

Much of the success for the passage of this legislation is due to the work of The Lifespan Respite Task Force which includes a diverse group of national and state organizations, state respite and crisis care coalitions; health and community social services; disability, mental health, education, faith, family caregiving and support groups; groups from the child advocacy and the aging community; and abuse and neglect prevention groups.

Quick Facts: Emergency Respite

There may be the need for respite care on an emergency basis. When using "planned" emergency care, the caregiver has already identified a provider or facility to call in case there is an emergency. Many home-care agencies, adult day care, health centers, and residential care facilities provide emergency respite care.

Latest Respite Care Services Publications

Full List of Respite Care Services Documents (10 Items)




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