what is respite care?

Many people ask “what is respite care?”.  The idea of respite care has been around for literally hundreds if not thousands of years, since the earliest days of planned and community-coordinated caregiving. The concept exists in hundreds of traditional cultures around the world, and was tried-and-tested long before any modern studies were brought to bear. The term, however, is relatively new, and as such we may very well find ourselves asking: what is respite care?

Respite care, put simply, is either planned or emergency care provided for the benefit of a caregiver, in order to give them “respite” from the duties and demands of care provision. While family members often take great enjoyment in providing care to loved ones, the emotional, physical and financial consequences to the care provider are usually considerable and can become overwhelming. Studies suggest that caregivers are around twice as likely to have only ‘fair or poor’ health compared with non-caregivers. A respite care break has been shown to sustain or improve the physical and mental well-being of caregivers.

In-Home Respite Services

In-home respite services are one option, in which a temporary caregiver comes to the regular care recipient’s home, gets to know them and their environment, becomes familiar with e.g. medicine storage and family routine, and steps temporarily into the role of the usual caregiver. Friends, relatives and trained carers can all be useful in providing in-home respite care. Typically, someone providing in-house respite care will assist other family members in general care provision and take over in certain situations in order to give the usual carer some freedom. The logistical requirements for this type of respite care, however, can often mean that a care break is not as effective as it could be.

Residential Respite Care Homes

Respite can also be provided as an out-of-home service, at a residential home such as those managed by Signature. Many care recipients are unsure about temporary residential care, which is why Signature creates a personal care plan for all residents, reassuring them that not only will their care needs be managed by professionals, but that they will be becoming a member of an active, caring and vibrant community.

Short Term Respite

While short term respite care is intended to help carers, it can also be indirectly beneficial to some care recipients, for example to offer balance to any issues arising from socialising only with a very small number of people, all of whom have an established relationship with the care recipient. Simply meeting new people and experiencing a change of environment as well as new options for activities, can offer respite residents a new perspective on the possibilities available to them.  In fact, many respite residents enjoy their time at Signature so much that they decide to opt for a longer-term stay.

Respite Care for Wellbeing

Respite care provides critical relief for people who often neglect their own wellbeing due to the demands of caring for others. It offers a chance for a carer to refresh and recharge themselves emotionally and physically, reinvigorating their desire to provide care upon return.  When a care recipient may not be physically able to travel, respite care offers the carer an opportunity to take a well-deserved holiday safe in the knowledge that their loved one will be well looked after and able to take advantage of engaging activity programmes, superb food and drink, and a supportive community. This provision can allow people who have less freedom to develop healthy relationships of their own, which can in turn be supportive to them in their care provision, and it can provide a break from the emotional and physical stresses placed upon caregivers. In this way, respite care can help carers to find peace, clarity and a rejuvenated commitment to their loved one.

Find out more about Signature’s respite care support.