St. Gabriel's Hospice and Palliative Care

What is Respite Care?

When caregivers might require a much-need break from the responsibilities of caring for a loved one whose mental and/or physical needs require continual attention, respite-care services can step in.  Respite care is intended for the caregiver as well as for the loved one being cared for.  It is designed as short-term relief from primary caregivers' responsibilities; and that relief can be several hours, an entire day, several days, or several weeks.

Respite Care Options
There are a variety of avenues a caregiver can choose for their loved one's respite care:  In-home services, special day-care centers, and residential facilities which offer overnight stays.  In-home respite care gives the caregiver an opportunity to step away for part of a day; and whether the periodic assistance comes from a support group, a community health agency, or from volunteers, the care-giver can return feeling refreshed and more vitalized to continue his or her responsibilities.  Also, in-home respite care can involve the loved one enjoying an outing, such as seeing a movie or going to a park or mall, assuming that is medically possible.  An in-home respite caretaker can, also, help with the loved one's laundry, bathing, medication management, personal hygiene, etc.

Another respite-care option is adult day-care services which provide care for a few hours or the entire day.  Adult daycare can oversee health monitoring, meals/snacks, transportation services,  recreation or exercise activities, and music and animal-therapy sessions. 

Residential facilities such as nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and even hospital-based respite care offer temporary services for short-term stays; and you will hear terms such as 'short-term assisted living' or 'residential-respite care'.  Short-term assisted living for loved ones means care-givers can take a vacation and partake in other prolonged, relaxing endeavors since short-term stays can last up to a few weeks.  Meals, exercise, housekeeping, supervised outings, and other services are provided by short-term assisted living facilities.       

Who Pays for Respite Care
Respite care will charge by the hour – such as hourly in-home care – or, respite care will charge by the number of days or weeks, depending on each, individual case.  Some insurance plans may cover some of the costs, involved, but some do not, so checking with the insurance provider, ahead of time, is important.  With that being said, Medicare Part A may cover temporary care for your loved one in an inpatient hospice facility, hospital, or nursing home, up to five consecutive days.  One's hospice provider would need to arrange this; and this coverage would be provided, only, on an occasional basis.    Medicaid, too, may cover a portion of respite care costs, as well as some costs being covered by veterans' benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Interestingly, the Alzheimer's Association and the M.S. Society offer grants for qualifying caregivers.  Along those lines, it is worth checking into whether or not your state runs a voucher program where caregivers receive a set amount of money to help pay for respite care, every quarter.  There are stipulations such as the requirement of applying for this funding at the beginning of every quarter, among others.

Respite Care is the 'Gift of Time'   
When caregivers devote their 'all' to a loved one who is disabled in some way, it can take a toll on the caregiver's emotional and/or physical well-being.  For this reason, respite care by a third party can intervene to allow a caregiver a much-needed break.  Respite care can ward off care-giver burnout; after all, every caregiver needs a watch over their loved one.  In the end, respite care not only provides intervention for a loved one, but it strengthens the care-giver's ability to be the best caregiver, possible – respite care, truly is, a 'gift of time'.


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