Autism Speaks defines respite care as, “short-term care for a child or adult that allows the primary caregiver relief.” Respite care can be rewarding, needed, and highly beneficial to those caring for loved ones with autism. The key is using Respite Care in ways that benefit your family, your time, and your mental health. For respite care to be beneficial it must be planned. For some, respite care is a time solely to relax from a busy schedule. For others, it is time to get things together and spend time away from a to-do list that never ends. There are many options for each family to choose from, which will be covered shortly. There are also ways for families to get the services paid for rather than paying out of pocket. In the following post, we will cover the different types of respite care, choosing a respite provider, and paying for respite care.
There are two main types of respite care: in-home model out-of-home. In-home care is just as it seems, care from within your home! These services include an agency sending in trained employees to offer respite to families. There is also the option of consumer-directed care. The idea behind this is having someone you know (or have interviewed) offer respite care. These positions are paid and unpaid. Often, if paid, the family is given specific amounts of hours to hire caregivers, or the caregiver is paid directly through an agency. In-home care can be beneficial in many ways. Some people find being in their own home more comfortable. Being trained by a parent who is with their kid every hour of every day helps the caregiver to understand every situation. Out-of-home care gives those being cared for opportunities to spend time out of the home. For some, that means camp, ABA therapy, group homes, or residential facilities that offer short-term care. Each of these options depends on the need of the family. Some families need round-the-clock care while others may only need care once or twice a month to catch up on things around the house, do errands, or even just relax for a few hours. Respite care is not defined by the term “rest.” Everyone relaxes in different ways. The beauty is that respite care can be used in whatever way will benefit each family and can be defined differently by each family. Some families use respite for relaxation while others use it to catch up around the house, doctors’ appointments, errands, and more.
When it comes time to choose a respite provider there are two choices, hiring your own caregivers or going through an agency. Most people chose to go through an agency. If you decide to hire your own caregivers, it is important to conduct interviews that give you an overview of who the person is. Things like in-person interviews, background checks, experience, and references. If you plan to go through an agency, make sure you understand the fees and what is asked of you beforehand.
When the idea of caregivers comes to mind, oftentimes the first question is “How can my family afford this!” There are numerous government programs funded through federal and state services that aid families in paying for respite services. Texas Health and Human Services offer a list on their website of respite providers narrowed down to the area around the search. ARCH National Respite Center is another great research tool when looking for respite agencies in your area. Family Caregiver Alliance narrows down the search by each state and offers resources based on what each state allows. These three websites are just the beginning steps toward finding the respite care that every caregiver and parent deserves.
Once a family understands the power that respite care can bring to them, they learn to use it efficiently towards creating a better living situation for everyone. Everyone needs and deserves a break occasionally. Respite care gives caregivers the freedom to catch up on things away from the home. It is important to have respite care planned well before you think you need it. If a caregiver begins to feel burned out, stressed, or overworked, the time for respite is now. Keeping a clear mind in everyday work will only benefit your children, family, and your own mind. Before life seems to feel like it is weighing down on you, consider researching respite care to find out if you qualify for financial aid to help find small amounts of relaxation and order in everyday life. After all, you deserve a break for some relaxation or a chance to run to the store alone every once in a while.