What Is Respite Care?

Respite, a break for caregivers and families, is a service in which temporary care is provided to children or adults with disabilities, or chronic or terminal illnesses, and to children at risk of abuse and neglect. Respite care can occur in out-of-home and in-home settings for any length of time, depending on the needs of the family and available resources.

Finding someone qualified to care for your loved one can be overwhelming. The care of a family member with multiple and severe physical disabilities is a 24-hour-a-day commitment. Most often respite care takes place in the families own home where professional care-givers provide an opportunity for parents to have some time to themselves to shop, to visit the dentist or doctor, or to spend time with other children or a spouse.

In addition to providing direct relief, respite has added benefits for families, including:

  • Relaxation. Respite gives families peace of mind, helps them relax, and renews their humor and their energy;
  • Enjoyment. Respite allows families to enjoy favorite pastimes and pursue new activities;
  • Stability. Respite improves the family’s ability to cope with daily responsibilities and maintain stability during crisis;
  • Preservation. Respite helps preserve the family unit and lessens the pressures that might lead to institutionalization, divorce, neglect, and child abuse;
  • Involvement. Respite allows families to become involved in community activities and to feel less isolated;
  • Time Off. Respite allows families to spend time together and alone; and
  • Enrichment. Respite makes it possible for family members to establish individual identities and enrich their own growth and development.

Additional support can come through a Respitality program, which offers a well-deserved break to parents from the constant challenges of childcare. The Respitality program combines respite services with quality hospitality services. Families benefit from the generosity of hotels and restaurants that provide free accommodations and a meal for two, during a 24-hour getaway. This “mini-vacation” weekend can mean so much to families–it has really allowed them to rejuvenate and refresh themselves so that they may return to their families with a brighter outlook.

Please contact your local UCP to see if they offer caregiver support programs, respite care or respitality programs. If there is no UCP affiliate in your area please contact UCP Information & Referral via  telephone or email.

Other Helpful Resources

National Respite Locator Service
The National Respite Locator Service helps parents, family caregivers, and professionals find respite services in their state and local area to match their specific needs.

The ABC’s of Respite: A Consumer’s Guide to Respite Care
Informative guide about the different types of respite, how to find services in your community, and how to select a quality respite provider.