What are the Different Types of Respite Care Services?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 January 2020
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Respite care services provide temporary respite to primary caregivers by caring for people with disabilities and older adults who need the support of caregivers. Such services can take a number of different forms, and usually there are several options available. Respite care is important to avoid caregiver burnout, and it can also help older adults and people with disabilities maintain independence and stay at home, instead of forcing them into institutions as people struggle to make arrangements for their care.

The simplest form of respite care is simply a caregiver who comes to the house and stays, if necessary, to provide care, or who spends several hours a day at the house. Depending on the need, the caregiver may be a certified nurse or similar medical professional. These caregivers can give aides, attendants, and family members a break for a few hours, days, or even weeks. In-home care helps people stay in a familiar environment, which can keep them more comfortable.

Other respite care services can be found in facilities outside the home. People with disabilities who are in school may have an option of attending after-school services which can provide a form of respite care in a safe and familiar environment. Day care services are also available, with people in need of care being dropped off at a facility run by a charitable organization, a private company, or the government. These types of respite care services provide medical support in addition to enrichment such as activities.


Sometimes respite care needs to be more long term. Caregivers may need to take a few days or weeks off while feeling confident that their charges are receiving the appropriate care in a safe environment. In this case, respite care services which offer a residential option can be used. These services are available from private care companies, government agencies, and some charities. Most have a limit on the amount of time someone can stay in their facility; if someone needs to exceed the limit, it may be possible to make special arrangements.

Respite care services can step in for planned respites as well as emergency ones. Many communities have a support network available which includes vetted caregivers who can step in during an emergency. It is a good idea to be familiar with these types of services and to have backup plans in place so that a loved one never goes without necessary care. Caregivers should try to visit respite care facilities before placing someone in such a facility to confirm that the facility is clean, pleasant, and safe, and to meet the staff to ensure that they will be able to provide adequate support.



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