Get The Respite Help You Need

General Overview

Respite can come in various forms. It can be formal or informal, in- or out-of-home, through a trained provider or a family member or friend. Respite can take many forms, from going away on a mini-vacation, to having someone in your home for a few hours so you can run errands or get to the doctor yourself.

Respite services can include the following settings and options:

  • An in-home respite program, where services are provided in the family’s home or a care provider’s home.
  • A center-based respite program, where family caregivers bring the care recipient (e.g., child, adult, aging individual) to a facility in the community to receive respite care.
  • A child or adult care setting, such as a child or adult care center or a family day care home or adult family home, which is designed to provide temporary respite care in addition to their regular child or adult care services.
  • Recreational programs provided through parks and recreation departments and YMCA programs, which provide recreational programs that offer respite breaks.
  • Generic community programs where children or adults receiving respite services are integrated into programs.
  • Summer or weekend camps that provide day or overnight options.
  • Residential and group home programs with designated respite beds.
  • Licensed foster homes for children and adults.
  • Assisted living or nursing home respite programs.
  • Informal supports (social capital) such as neighbors, friends, other family members, faith-based groups, cooperatives, or volunteer efforts.
  • Cash assistance or voucher programs so family caregivers can pay for and access respite care options of their choice.

Respite for Individuals Under 60

If you want to have someone come into your home to provide respite care, you may be thinking about who you can trust in your home, who understands your loved one’s needs, and who your loved one is comfortable with. Thinking in terms of your Circle of Support can help with that.

Your Circle of Support can include:

  • Immediate or extended family members
  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • Teachers, teaching assistants, or other school support personnel
  • Spiritual leaders and fellow worship congregants
  • Co-workers, employers, carpool participants
  • Support group members
  • Other caregivers
  • Healthcare workers or students

A range of possible state and federal funding sources may be available to help you pay for respite. The SC Respite Coalition offers vouchers to reimburse caregivers for respite care from a paid care provider. For SCRC vouchers, the person being cared for must be under the age of 60.

Respite for Individuals Over 60

If you are caring for someone 60 or older, or someone of any age with Alzheimer’s or related dementias, your local Area Agency on Aging may be able to help with respite through Family Caregiver Support Program. Funding for respite may also be available if you are a grandparent or other relative age 55 or older caring for a grandchild, or if you are parent or other relative caregiver age 55 or older caring for an adult child with disabilities.

For more information, go to

For those served by the SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs through Medicaid waivers, respite may be available through the Family Selected Respite Program or DSN Board/Qualified Provider Arranged Programs. Case managers can assist with obtaining respite through one of these programs for those eligible.

Other possible sources of respite care include:

  • Medicare Hospice Benefit: If someone is eligible for Medicare and is in hospice, their caregivers are eligible for respite under the Medicare Hospice benefit.
  • Medicare Advantage: These plans may now cover non-medical supplemental benefits such as adult day care services and respite. Other optional covered services that benefit the plan holder, as well as their family caregivers, may include home care, transportation to appointments, meal delivery, and home modifications.
  • Veterans: Veterans eligible for outpatient medical services can also receive non-institutional respite, outpatient geriatric evaluation and management services, and therapeutically-oriented outpatient daycare. Respite care may be provided in a home or other non-institutional setting, such as a community nursing home. Ordinarily, respite is limited to no more than 30 days per year. The services can be contracted or provided directly by the staff of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) or by another provider or payor. Another program administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Family Caregiver Program, provides additional support to eligible post-9/11 Veterans who elect to receive their care in a home setting from a primary family caregiver. For more information, visit the VA Caregiver Support Program.
  • Military Families: Military families should look to TRICARE's Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) or the Military Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), which offers respite care to anyone in the military who is enrolled in the EFMP and meets the criteria. See the summary table of federal respite funding that may be available to military families for respite.

Medicare does not cover daycare costs but Medicaid can pay all the costs in a licensed daycare center with a medical model or an Alzheimer’s environment if the senior qualifies financially. Some daycare centers offer need-based scholarships. Others may use a sliding fee scale based on income. Private medical insurance policies sometimes cover a portion of daycare costs when registered, licensed medical personnel are involved in the care. Long-term care insurance may also pay for adult day services, depending upon the policy. Dependent care tax credits may be available to the caregiver as well. See also Medicare Advantage above.