The demands of being a caregiver are challenging. Respite care, or time off, helps both the caregiver and the injured service member or veteran. Respite care is a valuable resource that offers a break and allows time for the caregivers to care for themselves. A companion or sitter may provide respite at home. Respite may be provided outside of the home in an adult day care, assisted living, or nursing facility. It can range from a few hours per day, a week, or short-term placements. Day rehabilitation programs may help maintain the injured service member or veteran in the home during these “time off” periods. These programs may also provide meaningful, engaging, structured activities during the day for the service member or veteran.
Respite services for people with TBI are generally supported by government grants and contracts, nonprofit agencies, Medicare, Medicaid, and through self-pay (most often with sliding scale fees). Many VA Medical Centers offer respite care and day programs to veterans enrolled for VA healthcare.
TRICARE provides respite care for the primary caregiver of active duty, Guard, and Reserve service members injured in the line of duty for no out-of-pocket cost and no benefit cap. Short-term respite may include eight hours of respite care, five days per calendar week.
Respite care may also be approved when the care plan includes frequent primary caregiver interventions (more than two per day during the eight-hour period that the primary caregiver would normally be sleeping). For more information, consult TRICARE.
The National Resource Directory can direct you to respite programs in your community. Your religious community, local social service agency, local chapters of Easter Seals, the local mental health agency, military service organizations, Veterans service organizations, and Military OneSource are all organizations that can help you find the right respite care for you.
Ask your military case manager about services available under the Exceptional Family Member (EFM) Respite Care Program, and how to qualify. Each branch of the military has a designated program. The VA has respite care for veterans enrolled for healthcare. The Caregiver Support Program offers additional benefits to caregivers who qualify for services. Contact your local VA medical center for details on services available in your area.