The following article is taken from the Family Caregivers of British Columbia December 2015 newsletter “Network News”:
Caregivers & Respite. The term “respite” means a pause or rest from a continuous responsibility or activity. The goal of respite services is to enable the caregiver to continue with their responsibilities of caring for their loved one at home by preventing overstress and burnout. Although “respite” is often viewed as a service, it is more than that; it is an outcome experienced by caregivers.
Respite can take various forms. Formal respite includes home support or respite beds offered by your health authority or private facilities. Informal respite is anything that allows you to take a break – such as coffee with friends, a walk on the beach or having someone else take over some chores for you.
Below are some respite ideas. The availability of these options will vary based on the community you live in.
- Subsidized Home Support provides personal care services (bathing, dressing, medications, etc) and can be arranged through your Case Manager. If you do not have one, contact your local health authority Home and Community Care office.
- Private home support agencies provide a wider variety of services based on a fee-for service. They may provide personal care, housekeeping or companionship. Services are tailored to the needs of the client and their family.
- Companionship services, home helper services and concierge services are other categories of businesses that offer some of the same supports listed in #2 above, except for personal care.
- Local volunteer agencies may also offer help that will allow the caregiver to take a break, such as driving to appointments or writing holiday cards with your family member while you go out.
- Better at Home is a program to help seniors remain independent. Services they offer include friendly visiting, light yard work, grocery shopping, snow shoveling and more. The program is offered in various locales throughout BC. The Government of BC funds the program, the United Way of Lower Mainland manages it, and local non-profit organizations provide the service. Visit www.betterathome.ca for information or to see if it is available in your community.
- Residential Respite is available in public or private care facilities or a respite hotel may have respite beds where your family member can stay for a specific length of time. There, you and the person you are caring for may be invited to the facility social or holiday parties.
- Adult Day Services provide a variety of programs for the care recipient, including socialization through therapeutic and recreational activities, day respite, health monitoring, and community bathing programs.
n.b. The Office of the Seniors Advocate September 2015 report Caregivers in Distress: More Respite Needed, expressed deep concern about the need for more home support hours and services to help relieve the strain on unpaid caregivers who enhance the ability of those they care for to continue to live in their homes. The report noted the level of carer distress rises with the number of hours of care they provide. The Advocate emphasized that home support services have not kept pace with the rapidly growing seniors’ population, and that family caregivers are becoming increasingly distressed. “If we cannot find a way to support these caregivers, especially those who are in distress, we will find that demand will increase on residential care and acute care as seniors can no longer be supported at home.”
There is also a call by the BC Seniors Advocate to have more than the typical one day a week Adult Day Program (ADP) service available to clients, to have ADP’s open on weekends, and also have a second shift, later in the day for an additional group of clients. The advocate also recommends ADP’s be funded to support a second type of client – one with care needs that are more complex than the prevailing system allows. These changes, i.e. the provision of more ADP services to frail elders, would reduce the number of visits to hospital emergency departments and reduce hospital admissions.
Please also see HOME SUPPORT – GOVERNMENT-SUBSIDIZED (PUBLIC): HEALTH Authority Home & Community Care (HCC) Services to learn more about health authority respite services and the phone number for Home & Community Care office in your area.