What is respite care?
Respite care is a family support service that provides temporary relief from the daily challenges involved in caring for a family member with an intellectual and/or physical disability.
The benefits of respite care are numerous, but not always obvious. This service allows parents and primary caregivers time for themselves and can support and strengthen their ability to take care of their child. It can provide a break in the daily routine to help parents avoid burnout, stress and fatigue.
Respite care also gives the child a change in her daily routine. It can provide the child with opportunities to build new relationships, move toward independence, participate in community activities, and make new friends.
Respite is provided in many ways depending on the source (agency or individual), the needs of your family and available funds. Some respite programs send a caregiver to the family’s home, while others require that the child come to a respite group home. At the same time, many parents choose to hire an individual to provide in-home respite care for their child.
Respiteservices.com coordinates a network of agencies and organizations in Ontario, providing respite services to individuals with various disabilities, and their families. A respite access facilitator is available to help families identify their needs and locate the appropriate respite options.
Respiteservices.com’s objectives and main functions are:
- to develop and maintain a consistent process for your family to access respite care
- to facilitate creative respite options that meet each of your child’s individual needs
- to maximize efficient and effective use of respite resources
- to provide ease of access of information about respite services to families and to increase their options for respite care
- to identify gaps in service and help with community service planning
The CHAP (Community Helpers for Active Participation) Program is an integral part of Respiteservices.com and helps connect individuals with disabilities and CHAP workers. This is done through a Worker Database where the CHAP Program recruits workers interested in supporting persons with intellectual disabilities, including autism and/or a physical disability, to provide meaningful respite opportunities in the home or in the community. Families are able to access workers after joining the Family Registry.
Visit the Respiteservices.com website for more information about respite services in your community – www.respiteservices.com.
How do I pay for this service?
Parents can pay for respite care themselves, or apply for provincial funding by completing an application for the following services:
Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD)
This funding provides financial assistance to parents to help with the extraordinary costs related to your child’s disability. It is a direct funding program based on your family income level. This program is for children under the age of eighteen (18) living at home with their family or legal guardian. You can apply by filling out an application on your own, or with the assistance of an agency or professional.
Special Services at Home (SSAH)
This funding is designed to assist families caring for a member who has a disability requiring support beyond the care normally provided by a family. SSAH is most commonly used by families to contract a respite, or support worker to work with the special needs family member.
Families who receive funding have the option of hiring a worker who can spend time with your child at home and/or help your child learn new skills.
Respite care is a vital service for families. It helps to reduce stress and support the family members so that they can continue to care for their child at home. Respite support services have been developed to enhance the quality of life for children with developmental and/or physical disabilities while encouraging participation in the community.
A Parent’s Experience With Respite Care
My name is Suzanne and I have two sons with special needs. My son Mekhi was diagnosed with PDD at 3½ years old and Malin a Communication Disorder at 2.
Being a fulltime working mom is a job in itself, when you have children with special needs, it takes every ounce of energy and any spare time that you have.
During the devastating time of their diagnosis, I was dealing with communication issues, temper tantrums and self-injurious behaviours. I felt so alone and isolated in my home. My husband worked days and I worked nights. We couldn’t trust anyone with our children, because they couldn’t communicate their needs and wants.
Finally through a friend I was told about a drop-in program for children with special needs that are integrated with “normal” children.
I enrolled them Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 11:15 am. This was the best thing I could have ever done. It gave me a much needed break from my kids each day. I actually had time for me (I loved it) and when I would pick them up, I was so happy to see them. I felt so refreshed and ready to tackle anything.
The children also loved it; they got to interact with other children, do arts and crafts, sing songs and make friends.
I really recommend Respite Care; it really changed my life and gave me a better perspective on things. All parents at times need a break from their children. This is exactly what I needed. It made me be a better parent.