Respite Care

Respite Care Nurse giving water to elderly womanRespite care has many meanings to different people. In general respite care is providing some amount of temporary relief to a caregiver who is overworked or over stressed. Although respite care can be provided in a facility if needed, it usually happens in a private home. It is true that many family caregivers mistakenly try to overextend themselves without obtaining enough back up and support for their own physical and emotional health needs. Many family caregivers are elderly themselves and or are working full time jobs and have their own families to take care of in addition to caring for their loved one. Moreover, many adult child caregivers, sons and daughters, are faced with additional hurdles of dealing with their parents increased paranoia which often occurs when the roles are reversed and the adult child becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child. In order for families to successfully care for a loved one at home, it takes many people to be involved to provide coverage during the day and night. When family caregivers work during the day they need to get enough sleep at night which can be difficult if you are waking up a few times at night to assist another person.

Respite provides a break for the family caregiver, which may prove beneficial to the health of the caregiver. 60% of family caregivers age 19-64 surveyed recently by the Commonwealth Fund reported fair or poor health, one or more chronic conditions, or a disability, compared with only 33% of non-caregivers. See more at

It is difficult to find a facility where families feel comfortable leaving there loved one and often feel guilty about the separation. As a result, families try to compensate by hiring outside caregivers from agencies and often have additional stressors

Respite at Home

Hospice nurse and patientWhile caring for a loved one at home is the hope and intention of most families, it usually can only be accomplished on a short term basis because people who have dementia or other chronic disabilities will inevitably need more physical and cognitive assistance. As the care needs of the loved one increase so does the amount of emotional, physical and financial stress for the family. When care needs arise, it is wise to look for a long term care setting and team that can grow and adapt to the life changes that are ahead. Some families rely on Home Care or Adult Day Care to help fill in the gaps and provide some respite but these options have limitations. The two most common limitations of Adult Day Care and In Home Care, are that they are short term solutions and are expensive for the amount of care and services provide compared to the amount of service received in a Residential Care Home.

Respite Care Facility

Many Residential Care Homes provide respite care on a short term or permanent basis. Residential Care Homes are a good way to provide respite because the care home provides all of the personal care, meal preparation, medication management and socialization which alleviates the family caregiver from having to maintain a presence and contribute all the care for their loved one and allows them to visit and focus on being supportive family members instead of caregivers.

Most Residential Care Homes function the way a family household does and provide a more personal family experience. The caregivers are usually consistent and are at the care home on a regular basis, often times the caregivers live at the home. This consistency improves continuity and builds lasting relationships.

Residential Care Homes are cost effective and range in price from $50- $150 per day or $1,500- $4,500 for shared or private rooms. The rate is inclusive and usually covers meals, laundry, housekeeping, activities, personal care and medication management. Because most Residential Care Homes are owner operated there is usually a lot of room for individualizing service and care as well as cost savings. Rates tend not to rise as much. Residential Care Homes can serve as cost effective alternative for respite care. Another option for Respite care is an Adult Day Care facility. Adult Day Care facilities offer babysitting type services during day time hours. In many cases this service is used by adult children who are still working and need someone to watch their parent or loved one during the day while they are at work. Adult Day Care provides minimal personal care or medication management.

Respite Care Limitations


Lack of Consistency – Many people report disappointment and frustration with PCA’s or caregivers from home care agencies due to the lack of consistency and frequent changes in caregivers. This can add to a family’s stress and cause additional anxiety and mistrust for the person receiving the assistance and the family who is trying to coordinate and benefit from Respite Care. The family and the patient often do not have the opportunity to build trusting relationships with the caregivers. The lack of continuity of the caregiver often puts more stress on the family caregiver by having to reeducate each new person.

High Cost – Another, maybe more limiting factor is the cost of home care. Personal care agencies cost $2,400-$3,000 per month for only four hours of assistance a day. They charge $20 to $25 dollars per hour and most have a four hour minimum which equals $80 -$100 per day. The cost for 8 hrs. a day, 7 days a week is $6,000 per month. The idea of in home care sounds good, but for most of us, caring for loved ones at home is a short term solution and has a huge financial and emotional cost.