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Caregiver Relief: Respite care can allow a caregiver a much needed break

In order to maintain the healthy relationship between the caregiver and senior, caregivers often use the time that respite care gives them to take a “caregiver vacation”. Perhaps there is a long-awaited vacation or a planned surgery and their loved one cannot be left on their own during this time. Respite care can provide short-term, temporary care to someone who needs assistance. These stays range from a day, weeks to several months, depending on your specific needs.


Caregivers can have peace of mind that in their absence their loved ones are receiving the care they need. Meanwhile their loved ones will enjoy the socialization and recreation respite stays can provide.


In Alberta, a caregiver (spouse or family member) who provides daily care to a senior can receive funding for respite care through the Alberta Government’s Special Needs Assistance program. The senior must have a medical condition warranting respite care and a maximum of four weeks per year will be considered.


In BC, Fraser Health Authority offers special supports to caregivers through Home Health. Respite may take the form of a service provided in the client’s home, such as home support services, or clients with complex care needs may be admitted to a care facility or hospice residence on a short-term basis. A Home Health case manager must first assess the client’s eligibility.


Key Questions to Ask

  1. How long have you been providing respite services?
  2. What are qualifications of the caregiver on staff? How are they screened?
  3. What care services do you provide and what are the costs?
  4. What procedures does the program have for emergencies?
  5. What are the minimum and maximum lengths of stay?
  6. How do you encourage social interaction and physical recreation?
  7. Will you provide an estimate and a receipt that I can submit for financial assistance?

Research indicates the importance for caregivers to have respite options available in order to maintain their ability to be an effective caregiver. Everyone needs a break. Seeking support and maintaining one’s own health are keys in preventing caregiver burnout.