Creating Instructions for Your Respite Provider

Having a list of detailed instructions for your respite provider is especially important when working with new providers, but can also come in handy for even someone who knows you and your loved one well.  Having a document on hand that lists all pertinent details can alleviate confusion during an emergency and help de-escalate agitation.

Consider some of the following:

  • What is the back-up plan if a difficult situation arises?
    • What should the respite provider do if your loved one wanders off or is determined to leave?
    • What are the best ways to calm your loved one if they become upset?
  • What verbal or nonverbal cues should the respite provider look for?
    • Does your loved one exhibit any particular behaviors that may indicate distress or an impending blow out?
    • Are there certain external stimuli that create agitation for your loved one?  (For example:  loud noises, bright lights, certain foods, or television programs.)
  • What challenging behavior does your loved have?
  • What are the ground rules, particularly if the respite is taking place in your home?
    • Do you allow your loved one to watch television?
    • Is food allowed in the living room?
    • Are there certain areas of your home that are off limits?
    • Do you have an alarm system?
    • Are there pets in your home?
  • Does your loved one use any assistive devices such as a wheelchair, walker, gait belt, etc.?  If so, be sure to explain the proper usage to the respite provider.
  • Does your loved one have any food allergies?
  • Is your loved one prone to seizures?
    • Are there specific instructions for how to deal with a seizure?
    • Should the respite provider call 911 if a seizure occurs?
  • Does your loved one require assistance in the bathroom?
  • Does your loved one have separation anxiety?  How should this be dealt with?
  • Who should be contacted in case of an emergency?
  • What medications does your loved one take?  How often?
  • If respite is provided in your home, be sure to include your address on the respite instructions, in the event of an emergency.

Plan time for debriefing after you return home.  Ask open-ended questions about how their time was spent together and what, if any, issues arose.