What is Respite Care?

What is Respite Care?

Caring for a special needs child or adult becomes a part of daily life for many parents and caregivers.  It’s a demanding and difficult job, and many parents don’t get the breaks they need to stay healthy.  It is critical for parents and caregivers to get care of their own in the form of respite, which is a short-term break that can relieve stress, re-energize your life, and give you a sense of balance.

When parents of a special needs child spend so much time putting all their energy into their family, work, and all the tasks required of caring for special needs --doctor visits, therapy sessions, IEP meetings, and so forth -- they often “forget” to take care of themselves.  However, maintaining your own health is vital to being able to provide daily care for the special needs child.

You should seek out respite care before you become overwhelmed, exhausted, or isolated.  No one can care for the special needs child alone.  Many people in your life will realize all the effort you put into your family, and friends, spouses, and family members will be willing to give you the respite you need.  If family support is not an option, or you need extra time to relax, professional respite care services are available.

Some in-home respite services include online caregiver communities and workshops, volunteer or paid companionship, and skilled health assistance.  Out-of-home respite care services include adult day programs, residential respite care, and caregiver support groups.

It is best to first think about your needs and what is best for your special needs child.  Consider how often you need respite care and what services are available in your community.  Think about if you need individual therapy services or even just a short break each day.  Many online bloggers and communities can provide that brief respite or laughter you need to feel energized.  Make a list of your daily activities and tasks and prioritize which ones you might need help with; for example, do you need someone to help with transportation or to make trips to the grocery store?

When searching for independent care providers, be sure to interview each candidate and make clear the routines and expectations for caring for your special needs child.  Check references, both personal and professional, and discuss the provider’s ability to handle stress or particular situations.  When looking at respite care agencies, ask them how their providers are screened and selected, how they are supervised, and what services are offered with a given program.

Insurance, SSI, Medicaid, nonprofit organizations, and other benefits might help pay for respite care.  Respite might come from a combination of hiring a professional and allowing yourself breaks throughout the day, whether it be fifteen minutes to read or write a blog or watching a movie or television show at night.  Find support groups and attend them regularly, whether it is in person or through online services.  Making respite care a part of your routine is integral to making it work.

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Written by: Cara Batema See other articles by Cara Batema
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