Respite Services: Choosing a provider

Entrusting the care of your loved one to another-regardless for how long-is not easy. It requires a great deal of trust on the part of the caregiver to allow an “outsider” into their home or to leave their family member alone in unfamiliar surroundings. While the relief respite services brings is welcome it often is difficult for caregivers to take action. Once they realize how critical respite services are to their own health and well-being they are ready to take the first step.

Types of Respite ServicesRespite Care Services

Not all respite services are alike. Different providers offer different services and levels of care. Once a family decides to take advantage of the available programs it must determine what kind of care will best serve their needs and the needs of their loved one.

Independent Respite Care Providers

Independent respite care providers allow seniors to stay in familiar surroundings. Services are delivered in the home by friends or other family members, volunteers or paid employees, such as those supplied by a home care agency. This type of care usually involves assisting the client with personal hygiene, dressing, feeding, medications or companionship.

Before selecting an independent provider you should:

  • Interview each individual face-to-face in your home. Inquire about their training and experience so you can assess their skill level. If possible have the senior participate in the discussion. Meeting with several candidates is recommended to help find the one who’s most suitable.
  • Find out if the individual or home care agency is insured
  • Outline in detail their required responsibilities, duties and schedule.
  • Ask if back-up is provided if the caregiver cannot make their shift.
  • Present potential caregivers with a possible scenario they may encounter while performing their duties and ask how they would respond.
  • Agree on compensation and a payment schedule (weekly versus bi-weekly).
  • Solicit-and contact-personal and work references. Ask about the individual’s reliability, trustworthiness, punctuality and their ability to handle stress.

Adult Daycare Centers

Senior or adult daycare centers are designed more for persons who still possess a moderate to high level of functionality. These facilities accommodate working caregivers and feature a variety of scheduled activities.

Before choosing a daycare center you should:

  • Make an on-site visit to meet the staff and tour the grounds. Is the environment is clean and safe? Are the seniors happy and well adjusted?
  • Verify that the center is properly licensed by the state.
  • Ask about the training and level of experience of the caregivers; what procedures are in place for emergency situations; how the center, its programs and staff are evaluated and how often; and if transportation is provided.
  • Sit in during some of the activities to observe the interaction between the staff and seniors.
  • Give the staff as much information as possible about your loved one and their needs to help determine if the two will be a good fit.
  • Arrange to have your family member spend a day (or afternoon) to see how they adjust to unfamiliar surroundings. This is especially important if they suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
  • Find out the cost of daycare, what services and/or fees are included and what payment options are available.
  • Visit several centers and then weigh the pros and cons of each.

Residential Facilities

Residential facilities are an option for short-term, overnight or emergency respite. Care is provided by hospitals, nursing or group homes. Before choosing one you should follow the same guidelines as those for senior and adult daycare centers. Since residential facilities provide round-the-clock care drop by at various times throughout the day and evening to see if the quality of care remains the same.

Written by Home Care Expert Mary S. Yamin-Garone