Respite Care Essentials

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Respite Care is an amazing part of a patient and caregiver’s long term journey.  And those who have utilized it will testify to its ability to give both patient and caregiver a needed break – physically and emotionally. It can actually give you a chance to try out a new living community on a short-term basis. Respite Care also offers a needed chance to regroup and refresh for caregivers and patients alike.

Respite care can take many forms. It can be a one or two day break where an outside experienced professional caregiver comes in a few days or even hours a week. Or it can be a more extended stay at an in-residence facility or community more appropriate for some patients needing more medical care.  Whatever scenario feels right for your situation, there are a few tips that can help you choose the right Respite Care for you and your loved one.

Types of Respite Care

Respite Care is a broad term that covers a number of scenarios. It can refer to programs that accommodate hourly “daycare” to care that is licensed and professional. The following is a breakdown of types of care.

  • Friends and Family: If your loved one or care recipient does not have serious medical conditions and just needs a watchful eye, friends or family members may be able to handle their respite care.
  • Agency: You can find a respite care provider through a home care agency. Agencies simplify the process by connecting you with providers with skills that meet your needs, and conducting background and licensing checks for you.
  • Individual Provider: You can also seek out a respite care provider independently. You will save some money by avoiding agency fees, but will also have to handle things like background checks on your own.
  • Continuing Care Communities: Some Continuing Care Communities like Chandler Hall in Bucks County, PA offer Respite Care for folks enrolled in Palliative Care or Hospice programs. The unique medical needs of these care recipients makes it critical to find care that is expert in a variety of long-term serious illnesses like, cardiac, pulmonary and advanced cancer care or Parkinson’s care.

Regardless of the type of care provider you seek, there are some things that should pay attention to that should influence your choice.

  • Licensing: If your loved one needs any type of medical care during their respite care, be sure the provider has the necessary skills and licensing and that it is up to date.
  • References: Always ask the provider for references from previous families or facilities with whom they have worked.
  • Screening and Evaluation: If you do choose to work with an agency, ask questions about how their employees are screened and evaluated.
  • Reliability and Clarity: The way a provider acts during the interview process can be indicative of how it will be to work with them moving forward. Look for someone who is reliable, prompt, and very clear about the services they will provide for your loved one.
  • Appropriate Medical Expertise: When Respite Care is needed for folks with advanced diseases like Parkinson’s, cardiac, long-term covid patients or advanced cancer, it is important to know that the care team is knowledgeable about the care recipient’s disorders and how to manage medication dispensing, therapies and emergency situations. 

Must Ask Questions

When entrusting our loved ones to Respite Care – no matter the length of stay, it is important to ask the hard questions about reputation, qualifications and levels of competence of your potential care team. No matter if you are thinking about engaging an individual or an established community, these few questions will help to bring clarity and peace of mind to the process.

  • What is your experience providing respite care?
  • Do you provide a written care plan?
  • How do you react in emergency situations?
  • What special skills do you have that make you a good fit for the job?
  • Do you have a backup if you are ever unable to provide care?
  • What is included in the stated cost?
  • Do you have age restrictions?

This list is not comprehensive but it is a starting point. Some care recipients may need higher levels of care or specialized diets which would invite additional questions about expertise and abilities to accommodate special needs. Regardless, a truly experienced and professional person or organization will never balk at answering your questions or providing whatever information you would need to help you make the best choice for your loved one.

Financial Assistance and Insurance

Unfortunately, Respite Care services are not always covered by insurance. However, Medicare and Medicaid will cover services offered for Palliative Care and Hospice Services. And of course, there is private pay and some long-term care insurance plans that will provide coverage. 

The following is a list of financial assistance scenarios that may be available to you. Check them out.

  • Veterans Benefits: Those already receiving a VA pension may also be eligible for assistance paying for respite care via the Aid and Attendance benefit. The VA also offers inpatient respite care for qualifying veterans for up to 30 days.
  • Medicaid: Medicaid does not cover respite care under its general benefits program. But, many states have waiver programs that can be used to help cover the cost. Check your state’s Medicaid guidelines and waiver programs to see if your state offers respite care benefits.
  • Medicare: Medicare generally does not cover respite care, but it does in certain circumstances. When used in conjunction with hospice care, Medicare will cover a respite stay of up to five days at a time in a nursing home or hospital. 
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-term care insurance, a type of private insurance, typically does cover respite care. Policies differ in what exactly they will cover, so be sure to check the details of your plan.
  • Life Insurance: Life insurance benefits are typically not accessible until after a person’s death. But, if needed, there are ways to access the funds while the person is still alive. Some families decide to do this as a means to pay for senior care. Be sure to seriously consider the pros and cons of accessing one’s life insurance benefit early before withdrawing any funds.
  • Local Resources: Some senior centers and churches provide adult day care services, often on a sliding-fee scale, especially in low-income areas where there is more access to government funding for aging services. Contact your local houses of worship, senior centers, and Area Agencies on Aging to see if any respite care assistance is available near you.

When to Seek Out Respite Care

The simple answer to this question is you seek out Respite Care whenever the caregiver needs a break. The reasons can be as simple as needing to clear your head and recharge or as necessary as attending a family function or taking a vacation. It can provide respite for a few hours or as long as any number of days. But the one constant in making the decision to seek out Respite Care for your loved one is that the care you choose needs to be the right care for your loved one.

In Bucks County, Palliative Care or Hospice patients that need a higher level of Respite Care are able to tap into the expert care offered by Chandler Hall, a Kendal community. At Chandler Hall, patients receive all the benefits of Chandler Hall living, plus the expertise of medical and care teams whose primary focus is on the seriously or terminally ill. Chandler Hall’s Respite Care team provides specialized care and along with that a peace of mind that only happens when you know that you are providing your loved one with the best care. If you are seeking a few days of Respite Care for your seriously ill loved one, I urge you to check in with the experts at Chandler Hall. They will be happy to answer your questions and guide you to the next steps you need to take to secure that break with the peace of mind that you and your loved one need.

In Search of Respite Care?


If you are looking for respite care services, please call our Admissions Manager, Patty Curry at (267) 291-2304. Patty will be able to help you and help make any arrangements needs should you decide to choose Chandler Hall for a Respite Care stay for your loved one.