Definition Respite care is short-term, temporary care provided to people with severe disabilities, chronic illnesses, or terminal illnesses. It is designed to give families a break from the stress of daily caregiving. Respite care can be for a few hours, overnight, or for days. The amount of care can change with the needs of the family and/or the ill or disabled person.
What is the information for this topic? What services are provided in respite care?
Services depend on the needs of the family or the ill or disabled person. Sometimes a respite caregiver comes into the home for a few hours during the day or evening. Other times the ill or disabled person may need to stay in a nursing facility for a few days. Either way, the person who needs help will receive his or her medication or treatments as usual.
Who provides respite care?
The respite caregiver might be a registered nurse, a certified nurses' aide, a family member, or a neighbour. Formal respite programs may send a caregiver to the home. Or, the person who needs care may need to come to a day care centre or residential care facility.
Families that are looking for respite care may want to call:
aged or long-term care facilities, which may offer respite care as a service
advocacy groups for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses
Respite programs can be found in the yellow pages of the phone book or through specific organisations.
Who needs respite care?
Family members who are caring for a loved one with a severe disability or chronic or terminal illness need a break in the daily routine.
Why does someone need respite care?
It's very important that a person caring for a loved one gets a break now and then. A change of activities and surroundings can prevent burnout and emotional or physical exhaustion. Periodic respite can help the parents or caregivers relax for a while and return to the situation with new energy. A change can also benefit the loved one by providing:
contact with new people
relief from the worry of overtaxing the family members
Are respite caregivers licenced?
Many formal respite programs require certification or licensing of their caregivers. People who volunteer their services may only have limited training. It is very important that the person who needs services screen potential caregivers. Some questions might include:
How are the respite caregivers screened?
What kind of training and experience do they have?
Will the caregivers need extra training for this situation?
What happens during the time the family member is receiving services?
Does the program maintain current information about the family member?
Can parents or family members meet and interview the caregivers?
How far ahead of time does the family need to call for respite care?
Are there time limitations?
Does the program provide transportation if needed?
What is the cost of services?
How can payment be arranged?
Who pays for respite services?
There is a carer resource centre in each capital city. You can contact the appropriate service for more information. People who enter and recieve respite in residential and aged care services can be asked to pay a contribution to the costs of his or her care. An advanced payment, or "booking fee", may be charged to assist in organising respite.
Except for emergency situations, a person must be assessed as needing residential respite care by an aged care assessment team before entry to this service.
A person can have up to 63 days of respite care in a financial year, with the possibility of extensions of up to 21 days at a time if an aged care assessment team considers this necessary.
Author: Joy Householder, RN, CCM Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel Editor: Dr John Hearne Last Updated: 21/0710/2005 Contributors Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request
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