Definition of Respite Care


Respite care is the term used to refer to the act of leaving a loved one with special needs in the temporary care of another party. This is a very common custom, especially for caregivers who must attend to other responsibilities. Typical recipients of respite care are special needs children, but it is becoming increasingly common for the elderly as well as the mentally disabled.

Stress Reducer

  • Respite care may help children by lowering the stress level at home. In a study whose purpose was to examine possible correlations between respite care and academic achievements by children with disabilities, Bernard-Brak and Thomson (2009) discovered that children who received these services exhibited higher scores on academic measures than nonrecipient children. The researcher contributed their higher performance on the reduced stress in their home environment as a result of their parents using respite care.


  • Recipients of respite care services must meet certain criteria depending on the particular care provider. According to Diog et al. (2008), these requirements include: proof of economic solvency, medical evaluations, minimal age requirements, behavioral requirements and duration restrictions. The article mentions that parents sometimes have difficulties in finding willing providers when they do not meet some of these criteria.

The Chid's View

  • Although respite care units have been immensely beneficial in helping parents manage stress in their lives, some studies show that children may hold negative views toward their providers. A study by Radcliffe and Turk (2008) examined this issue and concluded that the child's and the parent's views toward respite care do not always coincide. To assure the emotional well-being of the child, it is fundamental that they are not distressed by the service.


  • Even though respite care providers are generally considered safe, it may be wise to do some research on the provider before entrusting them with your disabled loved one. This can be carried out by asking providers for a list of recommendations and finding out about the company by searching on the Internet. If the care is to be provided in home, a "nanny cam" may be a good investment to make sure nothing undesirable is happening in your absence.

Finding Care

  • The best place to look for access to quality respite care is at the Lifespan Respite Task Force (LRTF) website (see Resources). They offer clients a detailed search tool to help make finding respite care as amenable as possible.

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