I act for some people as their attorney or deputy, either where they don’t have family that can do it or they are not local. And a couple of the lovely people that I help to care for have had health issues that has meant that they have needed respite care. And it is something that everyone dreads. They believe that it is the beginning of the end!
Well, it might be the beginning of the end, but the end was coming anyway and respite might just be the booster that keeps that person at home a little bit longer. Or the in the case of my clients, it was because they were ill or injured and needed some support to get them over their urgent health issue.
The choice of respite is as important as the choice of care home when someone is permanently admitted, but the criteria for the decision should be different. Respite is just a temporary home, so they need to be able to fit into the environment into which they are coming, therefore the other residents need to be in a similar state of health approximately. And the care home needs to ensure that as well as assessing the person and their needs, which they will need to do in order to care for them, but that they won’t over care for them and disempower them from being independent at home again, once the respite is over.
Respite also gives a baseline regarding needs, which is of course, only relevant for that particular period of time, if the person has a deteriorating condition. However when they go home again, it is useful to know that they have been settled at night for example, which helps inform the level of care that they will need when they go home again.
Respite can be needed for other reasons as well. Where the partner / spouse is the carer, they can easily develop carer burn out and respite gives them a break, so that they can cope in the longer term. This need for a break is not limited to carers who live in the same property, but children or other relatives who are carers and provide a lot of support can also have issues about burn out and need a break. They will find it difficult to relax when they are concerned about their loved one, so respite can be the peace of mind that they need for their temporary break from the caring role.
It is useful to stay in contact with the respite home, so that even if you are miles away, you can still know what is happening and have input into how the person is respite is being cared for. The respite home will also find the open communication helpful, so that they can deal with any issues that crop up as whatever the issue, it might have been something that happened before and there is a strategy to deal with it.
Good respite is helpful, even if it is the beginning of the end. In the cases of the clients that I assist, it allowed them to have extra support for a short period to get them over an acute period and then they are back at home again and enjoying their live