How to Choose a Respite Care Provider

Before you begin your search for a respite provider, make sure that you already know what you are looking for that would suit your familys needs. Decide whether you would put your loved one in an out-of-home respite care center or hire somebody to take care of them right in the comforts of your home.

In Home Care Considerations

There are some benefits to using this type or respite care:

    • Your family member is more comfortable at your home and its surroundings.

    • You can stay at home while your respite provider and your patient are still in the process of getting to know each other.

    • Everything that your loved one needs is right there at home and doesnt have to be taken somewhere else.

There are also certain questions that you need to answer and discuss with other members of your family regarding employing the service of an in-home respite provider:

    • Do all the family members agree to have people other than themselves around the house?

    • Can you have enough breaks if you hire an in-home provider?

    • How are you going to spend your time when you are on your break? Will you be doing chores that you havent done for a while or will you spend it relaxing?

    • Where and how can you find a respite provider that would agree on an in-home set-up?

Out-of-home Care Considerations

    • Are you comfortable leaving your loved one in a place that is unfamiliar?

    • Would they have a hard time adjusting to the new surroundings?

    • How will the patient be transported to the facility? Are you able to drive them there or will their transportation have to be arranged?

    • Will taking your loved one and all the equipment, medicine and other necessities take so much of your time that you lose most of your break time?

    • Are you confident that your loved one will receive proper care and attention that he or she needs?

    • Do you trust the people with whom you will leave your loved one?

Choosing a Provider

After deciding whether you will go for an out-of-home or in-home respite provider, you will have to know what qualifications you want your provider to have. Here are some guidelines that would help you select the right provider for you and your family member with special needs.

In-home Providers

List all the qualities and skills that you want the provider to have in order for you to be confident your family will get just what they need. Act like an employer whos seeking a suitable employee.

These tips can help you determine what you want your provider to have. You can use them to help you in designing an interview questionnaire. Does the provider:

    • Have the ability to lift your family member when the need arises

    • have work experience in taking care of people with special needs

    • have knowledge about safety and emergency situations, especially in first aid

    • know how to follow instructions, both oral and written

    • value time and punctuality

    • have references of past employment

    • have any training in caregiving

These simple guidelines can help you ascertain whether you can leave your loved one under the care of your provider while you are away. From these, you can also formulate other requirements and qualifications you want your provider to possess.

You can gather information about prospective providers by having them fill out an application form. However, if you already know the provider, there is no need for an application or an interview.

Completed applications forms by the prospective provider will help you sort out those who are appropriate for the job from those who are not suitable. You will know who deserves an interview. This may take a lot of your time but it will save you from the trouble of having an unfit provider.

The elimination process comes after you have evaluated all the information from the application form. You can shortlist the applicants that meet your qualifications and then conduct interviews, either by phone or face-to-face. If, after the interviews, you cant decide who to select, sometimes its best to just trust your instincts.

If you are not comfortable with somebody or you have second thoughts about welcoming him or her into your home, then you shouldnt hire that provider. Trust is one of the most important factors for you to be certain that your loved one gets the best care.

Here are some sample questions that you can ask your potential provider that would determine if he or she is trustworthy and a good match for you and your loved one.

    1. Please tell me something about yourself?

    2. What experience have you had working with people with special needs?

    3. What made you choose to have this kind of job?

    4. What are your views regarding discipline (when dealing with a child)?

    5. Are you willing to take my loved one for a walk or a stroll in the park?

    6. May I have your background checked?

    7. Can you tell me how to handle my family member if he or she cries or is upset or not in a good mood?

    8. Are you willing to share your interests and hobbies with my loved one?

    9. Who can I call that has first-hand knowledge of how you interact with people who need special care?

    10. If you are not available when we need your services, do you have a substitute available and may we interview that person, as well?

After all of your interviews, if you are still having problems finding the right provider, dont just settle on someone out of frustration. Hiring someone in this manner will only cause needless worry.

You should invest the time necessary to hire the right person, even if it takes several rounds of interviews. Its important for you to be confident in the providers abilities and comfortable with his or her demeanor.

A variety of in-home respite care services are available, from a few hours up to 24 hours, 7 days a week. You can employ them privately, through an agency, or by using government programs.

Out-of-home Providers

If youve decided to use an out-of home respite service, these questions can be your guide for making you feel secure that your loved-one is well taken care of. When asking the questions, replace XXX with the condition or disease of your loved one:

    1. Do you accept people with XXX condition or disease?

    2. What is your limit in taking care of patients in relation to their diseases?

    3. Do you have staff trained specifically for people with XXX condition or disease?

    4. What are your restrictions regarding their individual needs?

    5. How many people with special needs do you take care of at present?

    6. What measures do you have in relation to taking care of people with special needs?

    7. Are your providers trained for emergencies as well as first aid and CPR?

    8. What is the ratio of staff to the number of people being cared for?

    9. Does the fee include meals?

    10. Is state funding accepted here?

    11. Do you provide transportation for patients?

    12. Are you going to dispense medication if the need arises?

    13. How do you screen your staff?

    14. Do your providers have supervisors?

    15. Is your agency licensed by the State to provide this kind of service?

    16. Does your staff undergo criminal and background checks?

When choosing an out-of home respite provider, the most significant thing you must consider are the needs of your loved one. You should also take into account the location of the facility and its accessibility to hospitals, churches, and other community amenities.

The quality of food, overall cleanliness of the facility, safety, and security are all factors you should weigh when making your decision.

Whether you decide to have your loved one taken care of at your home or at an out-of-home respite facility, do your utmost to make sure its the right decision for everyone involved. Once you make your decision, there are still some important steps that should be taken.

General Care Documentation

After youve gone through the painstaking process of finding a perfect care provider for your loved one, you need to realize, you arent finished yet. The next thing you need to do to ensure proper care, as well as, give you peace-of-mind, is to create care documentation.

What is care documentation? It is any paperwork created by you for the purpose of documenting the proper care of your loved one. The document will be given to the chosen care provider to ensure the respite care service will meet all of your requirements. Some examples of care documentation are instructions, expectations, house rules, feedbacks, and evaluations.

The general care documents apply to both in-home and out-of-home respite care. You should provide them to the person who will be caring for your loved one and ensure they are completely understood.


    • Medication (specify frequency and dosages)

    • Other pertinent medical information that could affect caregiving

    • Physical therapy/exercise required

    • Toileting (if assistance is needed)

    • Moving the patient (if assistance is needed)

    • Usual routines and activities

    • Likes and dislikes

    • Dietary requirements, including allergies, whether assistance is required, etc

    • Religious or cultural practices

In addition to those listed above, you can use the below list to assist you in formulating a complete instruction list for care providers in the home.

• Keys and where they are used
• Operation of appliances
• Special equipment and how to operate (wheelchair, elevated bed, etc)
• Food and medicine storage
• Important phone numbers, including doctors, family, and emergency contact
• Emergency procedures
• How to handle child (when emotionally disturbed)


While the instructions explain how to do tasks, the expectations make it clear to the care provider what you expect to be done.

• Chores, such as preparing meals, shopping, laundry, etc
• Hygiene and personal care of patient
• Diet monitoring
• Administering medicine
• Interacting with patient (including activities)
• Pet care (if needed)

Lastly, a list of house rules can be posted if you wish. This can include issues such as- Smoking policy, Locking doors, Kitchen rules (cooking, cleaning up, etc), Visitors or guests and any Restrictions (rooms, electronics, foods, etc).