10 Things Every Respite Caregiver Needs to Know
Article submitted by Rebecca Sharp Colmer, Me & My Caregivers – 800-530-9129
If you are a family caregiver there will come a time when you need a break. It may only be for an hour or two or for a day or two. This is when a respite caregiver will step in.
Respite services cover a wide range. They may include volunteer services, adult day care for the care-receiver, or even a care-receiver's brief stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility. They also could include a private duty nurse or adult foster care. Respite caregiving may be provided by a different family member or a friend who can stay with the care-receiver to give you a short break.
It is a good idea to schedule regular respite care so the primary caregiver always has a scheduled, much needed break. Without respite care, the caregiver stands a good chance of developing stress overload or burnout. It is important that the caregiver and care-receiver have some time away from each other. Assistance from a respite caregiver is invaluable to the primary caregiver. The primary caregiver needs to have time for him/herself.
You can help make the respite caregiver's job easier if you supply him/her with specific information about the care-receiver. Here are ten topics to discuss in advance.
- Does the care-receiver understand instructions?
- Emergency Preparedness. Discuss 911 preferences. Review emergency procedures. Review your exit and escape plan. Where are the Advance Directives located?
- Does the care-receiver use any medical equipment or have any special needs such as, catheter care, hearing aid, shaving, peri-care, mouth/oral care, foley bag, dressings changed, dentures, etc. If yes, when, and does he/she need assistance?
- Can the care-receiver move around unassisted? Is he/she bedbound, need help repositioning? Can he/she transfer from the bed to a chair without assistance?
- Does the care-receiver walk unassisted or with a cane or walker or wheelchair?
- Does the care-receiver need help toileting---unassisted, bedpan, urinal, catheter, colostomy, bedside commode, or incontinence pads?
- Does the care-receiver need help with bathing? This may include a bedbath, help in the shower or tub. How often does the care-receiver bathe? Does he/she need a transfer bench or shower bench?
- What are the care-receiver's sleep habits? When is bed time and wake time? Does he/she take naps? Does he/she prefer the room to be dark or a certain temperature?
- Does the care-receiver need help with meals and snacks? Does he/she need assistance with feeding? Does he/she have difficulty with swallowing? Is there tube feeding? Are there certain foods and drinks to be avoided?
- Are there any special house rules? Are visitors okay? Are there any pet rules? Where is the gas/water shut-off valve? Where are the fire extinguishers?
It is a good idea to have these instructions written out and ready for the respite caregiver. Do not wait for an emergency to start answering the questions. Keep this information with the care-receiver's other important documents. For example, Rebecca Colmer's Family Caregiver Organizer includes a Respite Caregiver Checklist.