Respite Care and Therapy….What’s the Big Difference?

Respite care truly is a blessing. It provides temporary care of the dependent elderly, an ill person, or an adult/child with a disability while providing relief for their usual caregivers. It allows for the usual caregivers to have some free time, take a break, run some errands, or do an activity that enjoy doing. Most importantly, it allows for the caregivers to feel comfortable leaving their child or family member with a worker that has first hand experience working with the population at hand. Every person needs a break. No matter what the situation, human beings need time to partake in activities that provide enjoyment, or an outlet to relieve stress. Caring for a child with a disability can be extremely stressful for all parties involved, as well as immensely rewarding. It is especially difficult leaving a child with a disability in the care of a person with little or no experience working with children with disabilities. That is why respite is so key. It allows for parents to leave their child with a person who they can trust, and who has experience working with adults or children with special needs. However, when utilizing respite services, it is vital to understand the difference between respite and therapy. Therapy differs from respite as therapy is the application of interventions to address academics, skill attainment, or challenging and maladaptive behaviours. The sole purpose of therapy is the systematic application of interventions that are catered to the needs of each child, to provide meaningful change in the child’s life. Therapy differs from respite as it is much more intensive, and is not the time for the child to partake in recreational activities that they may participate in with their respite worker. Respite is a service that provides temporary relief for the prominent caregivers, while a respite worker spends some time doing fun activities and caring for the child. Therapy is the application of interventions, where addressing academics, skill attainment, and challenging/maladaptive behaviours is the prominent concern. However, that does not mean that any specific behaviour protocols or management plans that are in place for a child are abandoned during respite care. Specific behaviour protocols or management plans are still followed, however the application of any other interventions are not typically conducted during respite care. It is important to understand that respite workers typically have experience working with adults and children with special needs, however they often do not embody the same skillset as an Instructor Therapist. However, as previously discussed, respite is not the time for therapy to be conducted. It is a time for the primary caregiver(s) to catch break, while a respite worker cares for, and often does fun activities with the adult/child at hand. I am a respite caregiver, and an Instructor Therapist. Both jobs are immensely important in the life of the child with special needs and their family. Therapy evidently addresses the specific needs and goals of the child, while respite allows for the child to be cared for in a safe environment, while providing temporary relief for the caregiver(s). For any further questions regarding respite services and therapy, feel free to get in touch with Madison at Lighthouse, or any other of the amazing members of our team! By Madison Bartley:  Instructor Therapist at The Lighthouse      

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