The best caregiving plan includes regular breaks and pre-arranged respite care for your loved one. Caregiver stress is certain to affect almost every family caregiver and having a respite care plan in place long before it’s needed is one of the best preventive steps.
Some caregivers need several small breaks during the week while some family caregivers use the weekend as their regular break. Also, respite care is an excellent component of family vacations, weekend weddings or trips to share in graduation milestones. Other families use the summer time as a shared caregiving opportunity for long-distance siblings.
While some aging parents can adapt to other caregivers in their homes, some care recipients more readily accept a change in routine in a new environment, such as an off-site community.
It’s a very good idea for caregivers to arrange for respite care when they feel the need to “refresh” themselves; it’s also a good idea for caregivers to plan respite care in advance, even if they do not currently feel overworked or stressed. Simply knowing that a break is coming up at a specified date can have a positive impact on their outlook.
If you opt to obtain respite care at an off-site community, here are a few tips to remember when making your choice.
Make sure it is a choice. Don’t pick the first place that you find. If possible, look at several facilities so that you can find one that will best meet your needs and those of your loved one. You will be able to enjoy yourself during your time away if you feel confident about the care your loved one is receiving. Test drive the community with a brief overnight stay well before your planned respite break.
Find out about the providers. You need to know that those who care for your loved one are knowledgeable and capable. Ask questions about how providers are chosen, what kind of training they must have before they are hired, and whether anyone on staff has the specific skills that are necessary to care for your loved one. Ask about the kind of supervisory system that is in place, and the facility’s plan for emergency situations. If your loved one will be in the facility at night, find out how many staff members are employed overnight and what their nighttime procedures and schedules include.
Spend some time at the facility. If possible, try to spend a few hours at potential facilities just observing how things are run. Make a checklist of the things that you think are important and see whether the staff, facilities, and resources are all up to the level that you expect. Schedule your visits for various times of day such as mealtimes, activity times and bed time.
Check with others. If you know someone who has used any of the facilities you are considering, ask him or her for feedback. Discuss any specific questions and concerns that you might have.
Off-site respite care can be a wonderful option for those who need to recharge their batteries or just want a chance to spend a little time in a “reduced responsibility” zone. These tips can help you relax and feel more comfortable so that your recharge can really take effect.