Respite Options for the Holiday Season

By Family Caregivers' Network Society

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The holidays are here and although the demands of caregiving still need to be met, it’s a time you can give yourself the gift of respite. Respite is the break you get when you allow someone else to temporarily take over your caregiving duties.

Respite can prevent burnout and permits you to continue providing care longer. It gives you an opportunity to recharge and enjoy the events of the upcoming holiday season. Respite can take various forms. Formal respite includes home support or respite beds offered by your health authority or private facilities. Informal respite is anything that allows you to take a break, such as coffee with friends, a walk on the beach or having someone else take over some chores for you.

Below are some respite ideas. The availability of these options will vary based on the community in which you live.

1. Home support subsidized through your local health authority’s Home and Community Care Department. Subsidized home support only provides personal care services (bathing, dressing, etc.).

2. Private home support agencies provide a wider variety of services based on a fee-for-service. They may provide personal care, housekeeping or companionship. Companionship services may include accompanying the client to an appointment, playing games, going on an outing (perhaps to a holiday concert), shopping excursions, or baking holiday treats with them. Services are tailored to the needs of the client and their family.

3. Companionship services, home helper services and concierge services are other categories of businesses that offer some of the same supports listed in #2 above, except for personal care.

4. Local volunteer agencies may also offer help that will allow the caregiver to take a break, such as driving to appointments or writing holiday cards with your family member while you go out.

5. Better at Home is a program offered through the United Way to help seniors remain independent. Services they offer include friendly visiting, light yard work, grocery shopping, snow shovelling and more. The program is offered in various areas throughout BC. Visit for information or to see if it is available in your community.

6. Private care facilities may have respite beds where your family member can stay for a specific length of time. Some will also invite you and the person you are caring for to join residents for their holiday party.

7. Finally, check your local community or senior centre for special events or fun classes.

Next month: Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

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