Respite Care 101 – Every Caregiver Needs a Break

Image of home caregiver hair combing an elderly lady at home.

Caring for a loved one is a big responsibility. While supporting their health and well-being may bring you joy, many caregivers struggle. That’s where respite care provides much-needed support for you and your loved one. 

What is respite care?

Respite care is bringing in a temporary caregiver for your loved one so you can get a break. Care can be provided in your home or a care facility and can last as short as a day, several days, or weeks. Care can even be available for a few hours if that’s all you need. Learn more about respite care options in BC. 

Many families use respite care services when they need a break or even when they have an extended absence (like a vacation or work trip) planned, but they can’t leave their loved one alone, without support. 

Benefits for temporary care for caregivers

  • It supports your rest and rejuvenation (physical and emotional)
  • It gives you time to tend to their personal needs and responsibilities
  • It allows you more time to support their own family
  • It helps prevent your social isolation

Your loved one benefits from respite services, too. It: 

  • changes up routines to prevent boredom
  • provides a new person to talk to
  • supports advanced care (such as nursing services) that you can’t provide.
  • gives them (and you) a second opinion of their health (you may miss subtle or long-term changes). 

When you hire a professional caregiver or nurse for seniors’ respite care, you may learn new tips on how to better care for your loved one or deal with other caregiving challenges you may experience. 

Challenges of being a caregiver

Being the care provider for a friend or family member can be a heartwarming experience, but it comes with many challenges. Here are a few common challenges we hear: 

  • “I feel run down” – When you’re focusing nearly all your energy on the care of another, it’s easy to forget your health and well-being. Many caregivers feel like they have nothing left to give at the end of the day, so their health may suffer.
  • “I’m neglecting my own family” – If you have your own family or kids at home, you may feel that you’ve been neglecting your family while providing care for another loved one. 
  • “Supporting my loved one 24-7 is making me feel isolated from society.” – When you feel you’re the only one who can provide this care, you may turn down social engagements or outings on your own, increasing your social isolation.
  • “I’m struggling to keep my job and care for my loved one.” – Learn more about your rights and get help balancing work and caregiving
  • “I feel guilty” – You may experience feelings of guilt, wishing you could do more to help them. You may also feel guilt when you can’t provide the specialized care they need (such as medical care or meeting the physical demands of caring for them)

If you’ve felt any of these challenges, you’re not alone. They are common and often increase in severity for those who are a sole caregiver or who are caring for a loved one with complex or specific needs. 

These challenges are not insurmountable. You can find solutions by maintaining an open dialogue with other family care providers and your doctor. Sharing your challenges with others, such as in a caregiver peer support group, can provide valuable insights and strategies from those who have faced similar situations.

Types of respite care available

To make caregiving easier for you and your loved one, there are two basic types of elderly respite care:

In-home respite care: These temporary, paid professional nurses and caregivers or volunteers come to your home. They can provide care for a few hours (so you can run some errands or take time for yourself), overnight care, or several days or weeks if you need an extended absence. 

Some in-home caregivers provide services beyond care for your loved one. They can often also offer domestic support through cooking, light housework, and transportation to appointments if needed. 

Out-of-home respite care: You can bring them to a community group or program in the community. These typically take place in:

  • Adult Day Care Centres: These centres have day programs for seniors who feel isolated or lonely and seek social activities. They are typically only open during daytime hours, Monday through Friday. Meals and care are usually provided. 
  • Residential Programs: These are typically longer-stay programs (24 hours or longer) and run from group homes, hospitals, or nursing homes. 

Common barriers to seeking respite care for caregivers

There are typically three reasons someone wouldn’t seek respite care:

  1. They feel they know their loved one best and no one else can care for them like they do. 
  2. They don’t know it’s available.
  3. They are worried about the financial cost of care. 

The good news is that a professional caregiver is experienced in supporting the needs of a wide range of medical and personal care needs of their patients. You can often be there for the first visit if you wish to show them specific instructions. 

If it’s a financial reason, remember that care is flexible to your needs, including your budget. Whether you need a few hours or a day to handle your personal affairs and self-care, temporary in-home care can help. You may also qualify for financial subsidies, or it may be included in your health insurance plan. 

The best way to get started with respite care services is to discuss it with your loved one’s doctor and include it as part of their healthcare plan. This way, you can have support in place so if you feel overwhelmed or stressed, or another emergency comes up, you know who to call and they’re already familiar with your loved one’s needs. 

Make your self-care a priority too…with respite care

Don’t neglect your personal needs. Include a plan for regular or as-needed temporary respite care so you can rest easy knowing your loved one is being taken care of when you can’t be there. 

Hero Home Care is dedicated to providing in-home care for your loved one. Whether they require a daily phone check-in, in-home support for a few hours, or longer-term care, our highly skilled nurses and caregivers are always ready to assist.

Get the break you need to rejuvenate to provide your loved one with the best care possible. Hire a respite caregiver from Hero Home Care today. Start with a free in-home care consult today.