Frequently Asked Questions about Respite

What is respite care?
Respite Care is the short term or temporary care provided to a person with a disability so that the person’s caregiver can take a break from the daily routine of caregiving.

What is caregiving?
Caregiving means caring for a person with a medical condition or a disability who needs some kind of help or assistance, often the tasks of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or eating, but can also include activities such as housekeeping or grocery shopping.

Who are caregivers?
Usually family members, spouses, adult children, other relatives, and friends.

Who provides respite care?
Anyone that the caregiver can call upon for support and assistance, usually other family members, and may include friends and neighbors. However, when substitute caregivers are not available to provide adequate relief for the main caregiver, then community-based respite care services may be the best option.

When should respite care be provided?
Caregiving can be emotionally and physically demanding, and is often stressful. Caregivers need sufficient and regular amounts of respite care, and should not wait for the symptoms of on-coming “burnout.” It is best to take periodic breaks and thus to preserve one’s own health and well-being.

Where is respite provided?
Respite care can be provided almost anywhere that is convenient and beneficial to the care receiver.

  • In-home has many advantages especially if the home is already equipped for any special needs, and there are no transportation requirements.
  • Out-of-home may provide the care receiver the welcome opportunity to experience new surroundings and different routines. It also may permit the caregiver to enjoy free time in her/his own home. There are many models for out-of-home respite: day care centers, foster homes, co-ops, and hospital-based facilities.

Who/what are the community-based respite care providers?
Home-based respite services may be provided or obtained through the Fairfax County Health Department, the Fairfax County Department of Family Services, or by various private non-profit or for profit agencies. Service may also be provided at locations other than the home of the care receiver.

Respite Care in Fairfax County

What are some considerations in selecting a respite provider?
For in-home providers you should:

  • Conduct an in-depth interview with each candidate.
  • Be specific about tasks, skills, and schedules involved.
  • Discuss payment options and schedules. Do not pay for services in advance.
  • Request several professional references and then ask the references about reliability, trustworthiness, punctuality, and the provider’s ability to handle stress.

For out-of-home providers, you should plan to visit at least three, and ask the following:

  • How are care providers screened?
  • What is the training and level of experience of the providers?
  • Will providers need additional  training if there are specific family needs?
  • How and by whom are the providers supervised?
  • Are there limitations on the hours of service?
  • Does the provider provide transportation and meals?
  • What is the cost? How is payment arranged?

What are the funding options for respite care?

  • Private insurance, usually when licensed medical professionals are involved.
  • Private pay, sometimes with a sliding scale based on income.
  • Social Security Supplemental Security Income when persons have eligibility for disability coverage.
  • Medicaid waivers for home and community based services:
    • Technology Assisted Waiver when the care receiver has a physical disability and is technology assisted.
    • Individual and Family Developmental Disability Support (IFDDS) Waiver for care receivers who are 6 years or older with diagnosis of autism or developmental disability.
    • Elderly or Disabled with Consumer Direction (EDCD) Waiver for care receivers of any age who have a disability.
    • Intellectual Disability (D) Waiver for care receivers of any age who have a diagnosis of intellectual disability.
  • Veterans Administration. The VA provides inpatient respite coverage for up to 30 days a year for eligible veterans.
  • Active duty military families. TRICARE has two respite programs: Extended Care Health Options (ECHO) and the Military Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) for individuals who meet the criteria (respite care is provided for the primary caregiver of active duty members injured in the line of duty).
  • Various nonprofit and disability advocacy organizations such as the United Way and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Respite Resources

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