Respite Care: What is it? And is it right for you?

Image: Respite Care: What is it? And is it right for you?

In this session of Caregiver Tip Tuesday we look at Respite Care, what is it? And is it right for you?

You've worked an 8 hour day, cooked dinner, helped your kids with their homework and now you're off to your mother's to help her take a shower and get into bed. This has become your regular routine and on most days you handle it with the grace, juggling school recitals and grocery shopping between the periods of caregiver responsibility. But today you're feeling under the weather, and despite calling friends and family no one seems available to help you care for your mother tonight.

For many family caregivers the above scenario is often a grave reality. Life's unpredictability can sometimes cause situations where providing care for your loved one becomes a challenge. So where do you turn when family, friends or neighbours can't help? 2 words: Respite Care

Respite care is short-term caregiving relief. Various home care organizations offer this service on an hourly or shift basis. Caregivers who are unable to attend to their love one or merely need a few hours to grocery shop, run an errand or escape caregiver burn out can use the service to ensure that their loved one is still well looked after.

Respite care is intended to keep your caregiving schedule consistent, the Personal Support Worker who comes into your home will perform the typical duties on your loved one's care plan, whether that's help get them into bed, prepare a meal, do laundry or simply chat and keep them company. You can customize your respite care plan to fit what your loved one may need at that particular time of the day, be it day or night.

So is respite care right for you?

In truth there is no right or wrong candidate for respite care. Deciding whether to use respite care services solely depends on your personal situation. You may find you only need respite care in rare circumstances such as an emergency, or opt to have it on a weekly basis. Whatever the time frame or reason for the need, respite care can be a great alternative when family or friends are not available to assist you in caregiving.

Some important points to remember when using respite care

  • Speak with your loved one beforehand. Explain to them that you will be using a respite care service, which will mean an individual from a home/health care agency will be coming into their home. This is vital as you do not want your loved one to be caught off guard by a stranger.
  • Ensure the company/organization is reputable, it is important to you use a company that hires certified Personal Support Workers; these are health care workers who have been specifically trained in the duties of home and personal support. Do not be afraid to ask a company/organization about its recruiting processes to ensure that the individuals who come into your home are certified professionals.
  • Do not feel guilty, using respite services does not mean you are an inadequate caregiver. Adding respite care to supplement your caregiving can be very beneficial for both you and your loved one.