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Finding and Choosing Respite Care Services and Providers

by Carolyn Wilson-Scott

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Although there is often a measure of guilt that accompanies admitting that you need help in caring for your loved one, respite care services are a wonderful way to give your loved one a change of pace. Plus, it allows you to recharge your batteries, which, in the end, usually means better care for your loved one when you return.

Tips for Finding Good Respite Services

Finding a respite care service carries with it all the worry that finding a good full-time care facility does; in both cases, your trust and your loved one's well-being are on the line. The process is also much the same. Start by deciding what kind of care you're interested in. Adult day care is the least expensive option (outside of volunteer companions), and allows your loved one to socialize with others in similar situations, but requires them to leave the house. Home care may be a better option if your loved one requires more intensive personal or medical care, or is suffering from dementia. If you will be away from home for a night or more, you'll want to look into residential care, where your loved one will have 24-hour oversight in a nursing home or a facility that specializes in such circumstances.

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Find Top-Rated Care Providers

After you've decided what type of respite care service you're after, you'll want to want to come up with a list of potential candidates. If you belong to a support group or know other caregivers, you may be able to get suggestions from them. Services like HomeAdvisor eliminate the hassle by giving you with a pre-approved list of respite service providers.

Tips for Visiting and Interviewing Respite Care Providers

Adult Day Care and Residential Facilities

1. Try visiting at different times of the day to get an overall picture of activities and patient-staff interactions. Consider making an unannounced visit

2. Talk to some seniors at the program or facility. What are their opinions? Do they seem engaged, clean, and content?

3. Observe the staff. Are they patient, professional, and friendly? Do they call seniors by name?

4. Ask to see a daily schedule or a calendar of events.

5. Visit at meal or snack time. Is the food nutritious and appetizing? Are patients' dietary needs catered to?

Home Care

1. Decide if you want to hire an aide directly or use an agency. Using an agency can reduce a lot of headaches for you (in case of aide illness, resigning, etc.), but it also means you probably won't have the same aide every time.

2. If you decide to hire home care on your own instead of through an agency:

  • Check references thoroughly, and consider running a background check. You can contact your police department for guidance on getting one done.
  • Is there a back-up plan in case of illness?
  • Agree on how payment will work ahead of time.
  • Consider drawing up a legal contract. You may want to seem like "a nice guy," but a contract gives you some protection in case things go sour.

3. If you decide to use an agency, find out if it's possible to have a consistent aide, and if you can meet the back-up aides in case your provider calls in sick.

4. Make up an info sheet on your loved one, outlining their schedule and preferences. Review it with your care provider. Include emergency contact information.

5. Ask for daily reports from your provider. Make time to sit down for longer debrief sessions periodically.