Have you liked the NH Lifespan Respite Coalition Facebook page yet?
Click here to check it out!
We use our Facebook page for a few purposes, including communicating any new information or events we’ll be attending in the area. One recent opportunity we posted about is the job opening to be an AmeriCorps VISTA member hosted by the NH LRC. This position would begin in the summer and provides a diverse experience, great for those looking to get involved in the Human Services field.
See the Facebook post or AmeriCorps site for more information.
My favorite part of our page is being able to post articles that are relevant to the different communities and populations we work with. It is a helpful tool to spread awareness whenever possible and have discussions about issues that affect our lives and those whom we work with. This is a great way to connect with others!
We love to be involved with the New Hampshire community, so let us know if you have a Facebook page or group we could connect with!
At the Coalition’s monthly meeting for December, we found ourselves having a conversation that I’ve heard quite a few times since starting my position: “What is respite?” We didn’t come up with an exact answer; six members sat around the table, each adding their own ideas as the discussion continued. In my opinion, that experience exemplifies an element of respite: it is different for everyone when you get down to specifics. It is also a discussion that needs to be continuing and growing in our communities. To contribute to that, I’d like to talk about a few of the main points we discussed.
- Respite is care for the caregiver. The message we always want to spread is every caregiver needs and deserves respite. Being a caregiver isn’t something you sign up for, it is part of “your lot in life.” Everyone has times which are tiring, stressful, and difficult. To be able to provide the best care, all caregivers need to take a break from the responsibility some times. The specific activity or the frequency of these breaks all depends on the individual. The most important factor is that the time away from the care recipient is rejuvenating.
- The direct support work doesn’t change. A big part of our discussion revolved around “What’s the difference between a respite worker and a direct support professional (DSP)?”As a group, we started to come to the conclusion that there isn’t a difference on the worker’s side. The priorities remain the same: to keep the individual safe and happy, help promote independence, and make the time meaningful to everyone, among other things. Aside from contact information, it’s not important for the worker to know whether the caregiver is going to an appointment or out for a day with friends.
- It’s not up to someone else to decide what’s rejuvenating for the caregiver. This is another issue that contributes to the difficulty of defining respite. To one caregiver, it might be getting a manicure or having dinner with friends. But what if someone else finds their time at work inspires positive, restoring feelings? It is not up to anyone else to decide that that can’t qualify as respite if it has the same beneficial end result.
Overall, our conversation emphasized that respite absolutely must be caregiver-focused. The direct support care being provided will be recipient-focused as always, no different than other times. This is a conversation we want to be ongoing and involve any and all community members.
How do you define respite? We would love to hear in the comments!
It’s well known in the communities involving respite that there is a great need for more care providers, whether they identify as Direct Support Professionals, Personal Care Assistants, Respite Providers, or other similar titles. Depending on the situation, this shortage of workers could affect families and individuals with disabilities, chronic illnesses, mental illnesses, or age related conditions (just to name a few). Combining the existing shortage with the aging population in New Hampshire, it is clear that this issue needs attention.
As someone new to the human services field, my personal misconceptions about direct care work have been corrected in the past few months. From my limited perspective before, I believed this work consisted only of helping with medical needs and physical personal care. Now I have learned that there is a huge range of possibility within this job; it all depends on who you work with. An individual may have medical needs, but there are also many who don’t. For example, there are companionship roles, where a worker might be helping an individual improve their social skills and attending activities in the community together. This is not a job field which requires the same specific skills for every position. A few basic skills needed to be successful in this job are relationship building, being dependable and supportive, and communicating well.
Communities and organizations helping families and individuals receive services understand the need for and importance of these jobs. Organizations in the state are focusing more on communicating this to those searching for a rewarding job. I believe by helping more people see the true nature of this work and how it can be a great start to a career path, we could hopefully begin to see a positive shift in the number of new, dedicated workers.
-Felicia Anfuso, AmeriCorps VISTA member
Earlier this week, our VISTA member had the opportunity to represent NH at the 2015 Lifespan Respite Learning Symposium in Washington DC. The one-day session was well attended by the various states that have received Lifespan Respite grants. As Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Each coalition is doing important work on their own, but working together for the day will help lead to even greater success and innovation.
The day started off with an energizing ‘Bring, Brag, Borrow’ session, during which each coalition shared their recent strategies and successes. Everything from outreach to event planning was discussed, giving us a great amount of food for thought. Throughout the day, various speakers emphasized the benefits of continually working with state governments to direct focus to legislature around respite care. During every presentation and conversation, the dedication to helping caregivers across the country was clear; we understand the value of respite and will keep working to increase access to services.
Stay tuned for updates and announcements, our minds are buzzing with ideas!
Our goal is to help everyone in the state of New Hampshire have access to the respite providers they need. We know that finding a worker can be difficult, so we co-created an online resource to help with the process. The New Hampshire ProviderLink Directory is a subscription service, which gives families 24/7 access to search through a database of care providers looking for work. Searching on this site could be as broad as simply being location based, or much more specific, including the skills and background of the workers.
To try NH ProviderLink, click here to go to the site to enter your information, and after clicking submit, you will have the option to select a free 24 hour trial for the site. The trial doesn’t allow any contact with workers, but will let you explore a bit and get a feel for how everything works. Happy searching!
The New Hampshire Lifespan Respite Coalition is excited to welcome you to our new website! We will be posting any and all updates about the coalition here: everything from resources for caregivers to what our AmeriCorps VISTA member is up to for outreach. With a range of information, we’re hoping this site will be helpful for caregivers, professionals, and anyone else interested in respite. As we grow, our website will too, so keep checking in to see what’s new!
Explore all of our pages by clicking the different tabs at the top of the page. If there is anything you would like more information on or can’t find, reach out and let us know; we love feedback!