Spend any time as a caregiver or around caregivers and the word that gets tossed around a lot as the true solution is “respite”. No doubt it works, I’ve used it myself, early in my career I was the worker who comes in to give it to a family, I’ve also been the one attempting to facilitate for a family.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always available. One reason is eligibility. Standard respite means that a professional caregiver comes in to take over the care of your loved one for a set amount of time ideally so you can go do something for yourself. I’ve seen some eligible for a few hours five days a week, I’ve seen some a few hours three times a week and I’ve seen a few hours one time a week.
There’s also the week long maybe two in a facility which allows you to go out of town and the 24/7 care of a loved one is tended to. This word Respite is handed down to family caregivers by everyone and anyone they run into, brochures of the importance of it as well as the availability of it nicely spread across shiny paper.
Finally there’s the Adult Day Center where you can drop off your loved one where they will be engaged, cared for and tended to, within limits of their ability to handle which disease processes.
My real world professional experience is Respite still is a long reach for most family caregivers. The eligibility factor leans heavily both on financial resources and the diagnosis, ADL’s (activities of daily living) a loved one can or cannot do for themselves. Leaving most frustrated and continuing down the exhaustive path.
The biggest insult in my opinion is when the criteria is met yet there just isn’t any funding nor help to fulfill the Respite approval. Less likely in rural areas as well. It often comes down to private pay or go without. My experience is most go without.
Typically the primary caregiver will lean on other family members to step in a short time so they can run errands, then wrestle with guilt, so it never becomes a consistent option nor any true rest. How can it be when guilt and errand running is part of it? There are of course Home Health Agencies that provide Respite, at a rate of $25-45 plus dollars hourly. That’s a lot to ask from families who are already struggling.
So what’s the answer? As with everything else care related there’s never just one simple answer. Though I lean toward looking at the eligibility criteria and wondering to myself “is it possible by right of being a caregiver that should automatically mean you’re eligible?” That opens door I know to the problem with workers to fill the need. Again, no simple answer, “but is it possible to open up the door so friends and family can be paid for it as well?”
I’m aware some states have this option, leaving me to wonder why is it some states they value the need for families to get rest and others don’t?