Caregiving can be very rewarding. However, it can also cause strain and stress that might eventually lead to burnout. As a caregiver, it’s important to find time to practice self-care , to ensure that you maintain a balance between your own needs and the needs of your loved one. It can be very difficult to set aside this personal time, but there are services, like respite care, that can help relieve some of your caregiving responsibilities.
Here you will find information on:
- Respite Care
- The Benefits of Respite Care Services
- The Cost of Respite Care
- How to Hire a Respite Provider
What is Respite Care?
Respite care is temporary care that allows caregivers to have time away from their caregiving responsibilities. Respite care providers assist older adults in their activities of daily living such as cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene, but also are great sources of mental engagement and companionship. They can range from family or friends that watch your loved one so that you can get a break for a couple of hours, to volunteers and paid caregivers. Typically, respite care is provided in-home, at day-care centers, or in nursing facilities that offer overnight services.
In-Home Respite Care
In-home respite care is provided by a volunteer or a paid caregiver. They can take care of your loved one for a few hours or overnight, depending on how much help you need. In-home respite care allows your loved one to receive care in the comfort of their own home. Having the constant of home allows for smooth transitions between care providers and allows your loved one to stick to a schedule they are used to. Additionally, an in-home respite caregiver is only responsible for your loved one. This guarantees that their attention will not be split between other care recipients, which in turn, also allows for more flexibility. Some in-home respite caregivers can even provide transportation for your loved one, giving you more of your time back.
Out of Home Respite Care Services
Respite care doesn’t always have to be at home – it can be provided in adult daycare centers and other residential facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, and other specialized facilities that provide overnight care. Adult daycare centers are ideal for older adults who can no longer take care of themselves independently. These centers help combat isolation and loneliness, as many other older adults spend time together at the daycare centers. Being surrounded by new faces can be a refreshing change of pace for your loved one. Adult daycare centers alleviate the stress associated with planning meals, as they usually provide snacks and meals that are accommodating of different dietary needs and restrictions. However, most adult daycare centers are only open weekdays, so if you would benefit from weekend care or support at night, this might not be the choice for you.
Residential facilities offer temporary care for varying lengths of time, including overnight. While most facilities schedule when they will care for your loved one, some allow for last-minute care. This can be extremely useful if there is an emergency and your attention is needed elsewhere, giving you the relief that your loved one is being taken care of properly.
What are the Benefits of Respite Services?
In addition to giving caregivers more time and flexibility, respite care services can improve the overall well-being for you both. Respite care relieves stress and alleviates the burden of providing care, allowing you to restore your energy. When you’re exhausted, it becomes more difficult to provide quality care, which can ultimately put your loved one’s health in jeopardy
The free time you get back when using respite care services should be spent focusing on yourself, as well as spending time with friends and other family. Similarly, seniors should maintain multiple relationships and spend time with different people. Having someone else around provides your loved one with mental engagement that is beneficial to their cognitive health.
It can be challenging to spend every moment of every day with the same person, especially in a stressful caregiving environment. Respite care helps prevent this otherwise inevitable strain on the relationship between you and your loved one.
Respite care not only provides companionship and a new set of hands – it also provides a new set of eyes. If you are constantly providing care for the same person, it becomes more difficult to notice changes in their behavior or health that happen over time. Having someone else observe behavior with “fresh eyes” can help pick up on warning signs in their early stages. Moreover, they can help identify things that are potentially dangerous in your loved one’s living space.
Respite care can help both you and your loved one tremendously. However, these benefits come with a price tag, and most of these services are not covered under Medicare.
What is the Cost of Respite Care?
In order for Medicare to cover respite care, the care recipient must meet Medicare’s requirements for hospice - specifically a certification of a terminal illness from a physician and the acceptance of palliative care instead of other treatments. If your loved one does meet these requirements, Medicare will only cover five consecutive days of respite care. Additionally, this care must be provided in a Medicare-certified inpatient facility. There is no limit to the number of times respite care services are used, however.
For those who do not meet these requirements, or for those who would prefer to receive in-home respite care services, paying out of pocket is the only option for those with Medicare. Some long-term care insurance policies cover or subsidize the cost of these services, so it’s important to check with your insurance provider to see how much you will actually pay out of pocket. On average, in-home respite care costs $131 per day and adult daycare costs $70 per day. These numbers can vary based on your location, experience of the care provider, etc. In addition to the cost, there are several factors that play a part in deciding what type of respite care is best for your loved one. Therefore, it is important to know as much as possible about the provider/facility before deciding to share the responsibility of caring for your loved one together.
How to Hire a Respite Provider
The first step in hiring a respite provider is deciding what kind of respite care you would like your loved one to receive. You need to analyze the needs of both you and your loved one: what do you every day? What would you like help with? What would your loved one benefit from? From there, you can choose whether you would like in-home help or would prefer a facility.
You can hire an independent provider through an agency or through your own research. Agencies cost more, but they handle payroll, substitution if your provider is sick, and allow you to provide feedback. Having a system like this in place allows for you to file complaints or switch providers without hassle.
If you decide to hire an independent provider yourself, it’s important to have an in-person interview where you are specific about your needs, discuss payment, and check references. It may be a good idea to run a background check to ensure that your loved one is receiving the best care possible.
If out-of-home care is the best fit for you and your loved one, you should try and learn as much as you can about the facility that will be caring for the older adult. First, see what services (meals, social, emergency, etc.) are available for your loved one and the total cost given your loved one’s needs. Then, it’s important to consider how the providers are hired, what kinds of experience they have, and how they are supervised. The best way to get a sense of what kind of care your loved one will experience is by spending a few hours in the facility, if possible.
These decisions are important, and they can be hard to make on your own. We’re here to help and can help you find the care that is right for you both. Homethrive’s Care Guides are social workers who develop a plan with you, set goals, and provide personalized coaching while coordinating supportive services such as home care, home cleaning, and much more.