our everyday life

What Is a Respite Worker?

by Lisa Finn, studioD

A respite caregiver is someone who offers a break to the full-time caretaker of a patient. When caring for someone full-time, the duties and responsibilities such as lifting the person and contending with pain management can at times be tiring and emotionally overwhelming. Therefore, a respite caregiver is hired as a nurse or assistant so the primary caregiver gets relief -- either for a few hours each day or a week at a time -- from continuous care-giving responsibilities.

Offers Support

Sometimes the primary caregiver stays in the house and continues to fulfill duties, such as making meals or doing laundry when the respite worker arrives. This type of respite worker is hired for physical support so that the caregiver can tend to personal business or cleaning the house, running errands or simply getting rest herself. In addition, a respite caregiver offers emotional support by providing solutions to problems, such as recommending support groups or helpful products to the primary caregiver.

Runs Errands

Often caregivers need someone to help with business outside the home. A respite caregiver can drive a patient to a doctor's appointment or pick up prescriptions, in addition to shopping for medical equipment or groceries specific to the patient's diet. Taking the patient outside for fresh air and a walk is a simple duty that may be complicated and sometimes needs another person's help.

Listens to Concerns

While some patients want the consistency of a familiar family member, others welcome the change to a respite worker. This person is someone else the patient can talk to and get advice from, such as tips for resting easier or how to communicate better with family members or doctors. The respite caregiver becomes another companion and a source of information for people whose interaction with others is limited or who are suffering from anxiety or depression due to their medical circumstances.

Helps Organize Caretakers

A respite caregiver helps keep everyone organized by writing checklists for the caregiver and patient, such as when medication should be taken. She may also determine the best time of day for bathing and physical therapy; tips for keeping the patient's finances organized; and a list of contacts and phone numbers for emergencies. She also discusses any challenges the caregiver has and offers a plan or schedule to provide an easier lifestyle.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images