The National Family Caregiver Support Program Offers Respite
The enactment of the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2000 (Public Law 106-501) established an important program, the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). Funded at $125 million in fiscal year 2001, approximately $113 million has been allocated to states to work in partnership with area agencies on aging and local and community service providers to put into place multi-faceted systems of support for family caregivers. A specific component of these systems is respite. That could include, for example, respite care provided in a home, an adult day-care center or over a weekend in a nursing home or an assisted living facility.
Research has confirmed the benefits of respite. A paper compiled by Drs. Dale Lund and Scott Wright experts in the field of caregiving analysis -- states that respite benefits both caregivers and their loved ones. It further states that to be most effective, caregivers should consider accessing services early in their caregiving experience. Lund and Wright have found that caregivers need sufficient and regular amounts of respite, and it is important that the caregiver give sufficient thought as to how he or she wants to use that freed-up time, when and if it becomes available.
Respite can cover a wide range of services based upon the unique needs of the caregiver. It might involve medical or social adult day care and/or a short-term stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility for the loved one; a home health aide or home health companion; a private duty nurse or adult foster care.
For the caregiver, personal respite varies as much as the individual and could mean, for example: giving the caregiver a short break to attend a doctors appointment or to go shopping; allowing the caregiver the opportunity to nap, bathe, or otherwise rejuvenate him or herself; attending a church service or seeing a movie; taking a much-needed vacation; pampering oneself with a hair appointment or manicure; scheduling elective surgery; or simply visiting friends or relatives.