Respite Care - Your First Time!
Daily Living Assessment Surveys
Respite Care - Your First Time!
Pressure Ulcer Glossary of Terms
Wound Care Information
Skin Care & Nutrition
Pressure Ulcer (Bed Sore) Care
Wound Care: Negative Pressure Therapy
Wound Care: Nonsurgical Options
Pressure Ulcer Relief strategies
Pressure Ulcers-Preparing & Changing Dressings
Medicare Guidelines - Wound Care Coverage
Wound Care Types of Dressings
A Pressure Ulcer Assessment Tool
Using Skin Replacement Products Sensitive Pics
Social Health Maintenance Orgs (S/HMO)
Playing With HTML
Link then delete
Sharing IS Caring
HDSF Application
New page title
Research - Where Are Your $$ Going?
One more try
2nd half

Respite Care - Your First Time

Jean E. Miller
Clearwater, FL

I think the apprehension, guilt etc, all come as a part of the overall caregiver package and the first time you have an opportunity to use respite care for your loved one, sometimes that guilt can be overwhelming.

My daughter, Kelly, was with Hospice who gave up asking me about respite care because I didn't want to send Kelly to the nursing home they used for respite. Scheduling at home 24-hour care was a nightmare for hospice and you could never plan anything last minute because it took over a month to schedule the help for those days. There were two times we had to evacuate for a hurricane and although I went with Kelly, she was uncomfortable not having her usual routine and own environment.

When you DO get some respite time away for a day or more, here are some things that might help your loved one (and you) adjust:

1. Personal Items

Bring as many of their personal things to the facility as you can, like pictures, their own pillow or favorite bed things, that will make their surroundings a little bit like home.

2. Calendar

Get a large weekly calendar and highlight the days you will be gone. Ask the aids/nurses to mark off the days to let your loved one know that it will only be a short time and that they can see on the calendar when you'll be back. Also mark the days/time the others will be visiting if they'll be doing that on a regular basis.   Discuss the calendar with your loved one, reassuring them that they will be able to keep track of when you will be back home.

3. TV Favorites

If they watch a lot of TV, make a list of their favorite programs, their stations/times and post it on the TV in their room.  You may have to bring a TV from home.  We had to for hurricane evacuations.  Remember the aides/nurses that help at home won't be their regular caretakers, so make sure the facility understands what your loved one likes to watch and whether it is important, critical, etc to them whether they get to see a particular  program. 

I used ***(stars) in rating Kelly's favorites to reflect those she HAD to see each day down to those she normal watched but could be talked into watching something else.  (See Instructions-Daily TV Schedule)

4. Regular Caregiver Visits

Ask the facility if your loved one's normal aide/caregiving people can still come by at their regular at-home times for caring for them so that it will seem like their normal routine. The Hospice nurse and aides stopped in to check on Kelly.  If this is possible, the "regulars" will be able to help instruct the temporary caregivers on little things that will help in their care with your loved one.

5.  Normal Schedules

Post a one-page normal daily care schedule in their room where anyone coming into the room can see it (i.e. on the door, over the bed, etc.).  Include things such as whether your loved one is used to getting their bath before morning meals, etc. spell everything out. An abrupt change in their routine by "strangers" can be very confusing and frightening to them, making their stay there unpleasant for everyone.

6.  Who They Are

Leave a little write up about who they are, their children, pets etc that the temporary caregivers can talk to your loved one about/know them a little better.   If your loved one has favorite books or video's bring them (along with the tape player & TV if needed) and let the staff know they like to be read to each morning/night or watch their favorite movie, etc.

7. Contacting You

Have your picture (or primary family member's) on one sheet with contact phone numbers written on it and have it placed where your loved one can see it (in a picture frame etc).  Let your loved one know if they need anyone to tell the aids to call or have them point to the picture if they have problems communicating.  Let the facility know that when they do point to that picture to please call you or who you've designated to call them...immediately.   Hearing a "familiar" voice goes a long way in alleviating their concerns of being abandoned.  Let your loved one know that you are leaving these instructions and will be available if they really need you for anything.

8.  Their Gift To You

Have family or caregivers start talking to them a few weeks before the scheduled respite about how important it is for you to get some respite care/this time away so you can be a better caregiver, etc.  This helped tremendously with Kelly as Hospice made it seem like Kelly was giving me a "present" (she was) and Kelly just beamed from ear to ear and was so happy that she was "doing something" for me!!  Then make sure you tell them, often, how much the gift they are giving you means to you.

9.  You're Available 24/7

If you have a beeper bring it, or rent one for the week. The important thing is to let your loved one know that they will always be able to reach you.  Let them know what time/days you will be calling (if you plan to) and have those times written on that calendar too. Make sure you call at that time because if they're cognitive, they WILL remember and look forward to your call. When you call, reassure them by telling them how much longer you will be gone and that you are looking forward to seeing them again.......and again THANK them for helping you to have this respite!

I hope some of these ideas work for you. Respite care can do wonders to refresh a caregiver but with the proper planning it can also be a break for your loved one too!