Respite Care and Preparing for the Next Wave

Respite means, a short break. Respite care has been shown to boost caregiver and family well-being, while being good for the individual – either child, youth or adult by avoiding or delaying out-of-home placements and improving development. From a couple hours after school to a long-weekend stay, Safehaven is recognized as a place where families can obtain respite care for their loved ones while they are able to take time for themselves and recharge. The individuals receiving the respite care are able to be part of an inclusive environment where they can meet new individuals and develop friendships while gaining some independence.

Families of children with complex care needs are profoundly dedicated to caring for their loved ones. Even so, the physical and emotional burden of providing 24/7 care can be overwhelming without support. Safehaven provides high quality respite care for children with complex care needs, so that their families can take some well-deserved time to rejuvenate.

The pandemic, with the needed restrictions, has taken respite away respite for so many families – leaving them exhausted and at the end of their rope. I have spoken to our families and heard their stories about what life has been like without a break. The conversations have been difficult. They also demonstrated an opportunity for Safehaven to take action and do what we can to support these amazing families. COVID-19 has challenged us to pivot and re-imagine care, especially respite for individuals and families with medical complexities. In partnership with our families, we are looking at innovative ways to deliver in-home respite care that is safe, inclusive and meets Safehaven’s high quality standards of care. We are committed to doing what we can to support these families and to break down the barriers they are experiencing. Nothing about me without me: one of our core promises is encouraging our families to lead the way, ensuring that we move the program forward in a way that bolsters confidence and sustainability for those who need it most.

Building an inclusive community is at the root of Safehaven’s mission and COVID-19 has shown us that in the face of adversity, our clients, employee, volunteers and partners come together to make us stronger. Through the pandemic, we accelerated our work to close the gaps our clients face, through our advocacy.  While protecting the individuals and families we serve in partnership with our community, we rose to the challenge with our cross-sector partners to create the kinds of system changes that will be the foundation of our innovative future.

As we prepare for a potential second wave of the pandemic this winter, we are acutely aware of the lessons we have learned through the past five months.  COVID-19 has uncovered a number of challenges for our most vulnerable residents — and for our sector.  For instance, we can’t take our eyes off the basics, such as the ongoing need to secure access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), ensuring our employees and families have a solid understanding of Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) that keeps everyone safe.  We have learned from the implementation of visitor guidelines and more, how to better support our residents and their caregivers through enhanced high-touch virtual communications and the support needed through psychotherapists to navigate emotions that surface from our kids, parents and employees.

We are taking these learnings and looking forward. Safehaven will continue to lead system transformation through efforts like our Infection Prevention and Control program. Our IPAC Mobile Team supports organizations across the Developmental Sector and beyond, providing expertise, training, mask fit testing, swab testing and on-site reviews to create safe environments. Breaking down barriers across sectors to ensure safe, high quality care for those we support will become the way we work during – and beyond – the pandemic.  

Resilience, innovation, and inclusivity are our guiding values because we understand that these are the ingredients needed to tackle the intractable challenges faced within our sector.  We also know that these are the key to facing the challenges that lie ahead.

We are changemakers
We are advocates
We are community
We Belong.