Sadly, finding respite care for a child with special needs can be harder than you believe. You may feel like you’re the only qualified person capable of fulfilling all your child’s needs, and somehow doubt that anybody else could fulfill such duties. But keep in mind that you aren’t super-human. Many children have special needs, and they deserve the best possible care. Find out how you can find respite care that makes your child feel safe and gets all the care he or she needs.
There are several respite care options available for people who want to provide their child with extra assistance. One is the traditional case of home health care, which usually means a licensed nurse providing round-the-clock care. This setup has its advantages, but many parents have complaints about spending too much time watching their loved one at home, rather than with their health care providers when there’s an urgent need for care. In addition, home health care caregivers are not paid for hours they spend watching your child, so the expense can quickly add up.
If home health care isn’t an option, or if you don’t want to hire a caregiver, there are several other options for respite care. Medicaid, the federal or state-funded program designed to cover medical expenses, does allow some families to hire their own caregivers. If your loved one qualifies, it can be quite cost-effective to hire an aide, especially since many caregivers are trained in the health care field and often already have some experience working with children. Some Medicaid programs also pay for in-home caregivers, though this is more common in child adoption or family member care situations. If none of these options meet your needs, there are also private agencies that offer respite care, though you’ll find fewer choices in that category.
Private agencies tend to focus on hiring families who are certain to qualify, so it’s easy to assume that all of those listed in the agency’s brochure are automatically eligible for care. The truth is, no two families are exactly alike, so each case will have different eligibility requirements. Depending on your family’s specific needs, it may be necessary to speak directly with an experienced professional about their specific case, so you don’t waste your time with applications that don’t address the situation that needs attention. Some programs do offer an application process that can be as simple as filling out a form online; others require an in-person interview or special consideration for specific circumstances.
Some state agencies allow qualified non-medical caregivers to work on a part-time or freelance basis, and most allow the caregiver to work only during the week. This can be helpful for someone whose loved one will need extra help, but can’t afford to hire a full-time caregiver. However, some agencies will only hire workers if they’re registered and certified. That can make it difficult to accurately assess whether or not the caregiver is truly capable of providing personal care assistance. It’s best to check multiple sources before contacting the personal care assistance program to discuss your loved one’s case.
If Medicaid or Medicare does not cover the costs of respite care, then the applicant must obtain a waiver in order to be eligible. Most state programs will require potential caregivers to obtain a waiver in order to apply. Applicants should consult a licensed health care attorney for help obtaining a Medicaid or Medicare waiver. Though most states allow for some respite care assistance to be covered by federal funds, no such funds are available to cover all expenses. If your loved one is eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, they may be able to qualify for other types of financial assistance through private agencies and state government agencies.