Taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to help your loved one. Family caregivers are often referred to as the backbone of America’s long-term care system. Respite care - planned or emergency - is the provision of short-term, temporary relief to those who are caring for family members with special needs. Respite also provides a positive experience for the person receiving care. Even though many families take great joy in providing care to their loved ones so that they can remain at home, the physical, emotional and financial consequences for the family caregiver can be overwhelming. Sometimes caregivers are so busy caring for others that they ignore their own needs. It’s okay to take an occasional break from caregiving!
The Lifespan Respite Network was a result of a number of us coming together beginning in 1997 as a result of a statewide conference held in August. The beginning of a statewide initiative was established and HHS committed to help form the infrastructure for a permanent Coalition.
In the spring of 1998 a request for proposals was issued by HSS to convene a statewide initiative to promote respite, develop permanent funding, and promote the development of training of providers and families, and a centralized information and referral for services. The YWCA of Lincoln was awarded the one-year funding to serve as a starting point for a statewide service. A group of those of us associated with caregivers began meeting under the direction of Judy Halstead (former Health Director of LLCHD) working with then Senator Denny Byars of Beatrice.
In 1999, the Nebraska Legislature established the Nebraska Lifespan Respite Program (LB 148). Based on this legislation, the Department of Health and Human Services established six Lifespan Respite Service Areas to coordinate respite resources across Nebraska.
The Lifespan Respite Network was established to:
- Create a single point of contact within each Service Area to provide information and referral regarding respite resources;
- Increase the public’s awareness of respite and provide community outreach by involving interested stakeholders and building on existing resources;
- Increase access to respite resources by recruiting appropriate providers and promoting the expansion of respite services;
- Ensure training is available for both consumers and providers by coordinating existing training resources and recruiting additional resources to meet the training needs across the Lifespan; and
- Implement ongoing evaluation of providers, caregivers and the respite system to determine unmet needs.