“Everyone Deserves and Needs a Break Now and Then”

Cassidy enjoys spending time at the Respite House.

By Dawn Todd, Respite House Supervisor

We love our young people who visit the Respite House! Just as important are the families who utilize our services in order to take a much needed break (respite) over an occasional weekend.

We know it is not easy for caregivers to entrust their loved one to our care without worrying or having some anxiety. Sometimes the stress and tension can be seen in the caregiver’s face and body language as they come through the door and proceed with the weekend “check-In.” The amazing part of this journey however, is seeing the caregiver’s “smile and restful look” as they return for “checkout.” The caregivers see all is well with their loved one and how much they have enjoyed their stay away from home. Those same care giving parents/guardians gladly notice the art projects, baked cakes and talks about the singing and dancing, as well as the many other happenings such as playing outside in the park and taking walks along the trails that surround our welcoming “Respite House.” There is a sigh of relief that only proper “respite” could bring month after month of visiting.

Apparently, our true mission becomes clear to our care giving families when they start to realize everyone deserves and needs a break now and then. From the countless cumbersome responsibilities along with the daily draining environment of providing for loved ones with special needs and timely requirements, respite care naturally becomes a win/win. The children/young adults benefit from the mini reprieve while socializing with others who also are creating new and building lasting friendships with each other, and at the same time, their care providers are able to have that well deserved break.

For more information or questions about the Helping Hands Respite Care’s Respite House, please contact our office at 517-372-6671 and ask for Supervisor, Dawn Todd (Ext. #106)

10 Signs of Caregiver Stress

This list of 10 signs of caregiver stress comes to you from the Alzheimer Association.  At Helping Hands Respite Care we often see or experience these signs first hand. It is heartening to know that we provide the means for families to get temporary relief from the stress they feel because of their responsibilities as a caregiver.

If you experience any of these signs of stress on a regular basis, make time to talk to your doctor.

1. Denial about the disease and its effect on the person who has been diagnosed. “I know Mom is going to get better.”

2. Anger at the person with Alzheimer’s, anger that no cure exists, or anger that people don’t understand what’s happening. “If he asks me that one more time I’ll scream!”

3. Social withdrawal from friends and activities that once brought pleasure. “I don’t care about getting together with the neighbors anymore.”

4. Anxiety about the future. “What happens when he needs more care than I can provide?”

5. Depression that begins to break your spirit and affects your ability to cope. “I don’t care anymore.”

6. Exhaustion that makes it nearly impossible to complete necessary daily tasks. “I’m too tired for this.”

7. Sleeplessness caused by a never-ending list of concerns. “What if she wanders out of the house or falls and hurts herself?”

8. Irritability that leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and actions. “Leave me alone!”

9. Lack of concentration that makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks. “I was so busy, I forgot we had an appointment.”

10. Health problems that begin to take a mental and physical toll. “I can’t remember the last time I felt good.”

To learn more about respite care and the Adult Day Services (ADS) program at Helping Hands Respite Care, contact Alison Sarkozy alison@helpinghandsrespite.care

Source: Alzheimer’s Association

Cold Outside – Respite House Reminder

Baby Its Cold Outside! Or, It Will be Soon.

Respite House weekend guests, cold weather is fast approaching and it’s time to bring all the gear!
Coats, hats, scarves, boots, mittens and snow pants are an essential part of a blustery respite weekend. Going outdoors and getting exercise can help alleviate anxiety, expend excess energy, and give our clients unique experiences they wouldn’t have otherwise. Not only is it fun to be able to enjoy the outdoors during the cooler months, our licensing requires it!

Over the next few months please plan on providing your child or loved one with the items listed above. If possible, please write their name on the tag to avoid any belongings getting lost. If your child comes back from the respite house missing anything, please contact me in the office and I will attempt to retrieve it for you.

In the coming weeks it will be fun to get outside and enjoy the autumn weather. And even more fun if everyone is dressed appropriately. Thanks for thinking ahead and checking the weather report before you pack up for a Respite House weekend.



Anna Miller
RH Supervisor

Change in Policy

Weekend Respite and Weekend Shifts – Change in Policy

There has been a recent change in policy for caregivers which has been put in place to provide the best opportunity for weekend respite for families. Our former policy required every caregiver to serve a mandatory three weekend shifts per month – this has now been changed to six mandatory weekend shifts per month. We recently were forced to cancel a whole weekend at the Respite House because we did not have all of the shifts covered. This was heart-breaking for the four young people who would have attended, and their families who were looking forward to a full weekend of respite.

The Benefit of the Six Weekend Shifts Plan for Caregivers

Caregivers, you have the power to schedule your own shifts, giving you all of the control you need to coordinate your schedule around important events in your life. Additionally, when you take the six weekend shifts, you may be learning about how to care for more participants, making you a better all-around care provider.

The Benefit of the Six Weekend Shifts Plan for Families

By having more caregivers trained for your loved one, in your home, or at the Weekend Respite House means you have a deeper bench of caregivers available to tap should you have the need for more coverage. The Weekend Respite House is very important to many families, and this policy was designed to make sure that we won’t have to say no to any family seeking respite.

Advice to Caregivers on Scheduling

You should know that we schedule a month in advance. Our best advice to caregivers is to be proactive about your scheduling by looking at least six to eight weeks in advance. By doing this, you will have the best shot at getting the weekend shifts you want and still be able to attend important events in your life. Our Scheduler, Molly Fultz, can be a great help to you, but she can’t help you sort out your scheduling conflicts if you don’t respond to her calls, emails, or texts.

Community Immersion

Boys visiting museum during a community immersion activity

Community Immersion Activities at Weekend Respite House

In the past few months we have worked harder to prioritize opportunities for our Weekend Respite House guests to get out and about in the community. Sometimes this takes a bit more preparation and even a bit of resourcefulness. This usually relates to where we might be going, transportation issues and in some cases finding locations which would meet the needs/interests of all of our guests. (Sometimes with the right staffing ratio we can divide and conquer and make sure that our guests get to have an experience targeted to their ability level.)

Special challenges related to unexpected behaviors during community immersion activites are not unlike what a parent might experience when taking his or her child to the grocery store. Somehow they know when you, as the parent or responsible party, are vulnerable to public displays of misbehavior. In the case of our guests at Weekend Respite House, we know that many times their behaviors are rooted in some discomfort related to a break in a predictable routine. The good news is that with our training and the proper mindset we successfully navigate most of these potentially difficult situations.

Managing Behaviors During Community Immersion Activities

Here is our best advice on managing a public (or private) behavioral situation:
1. Be vigilant for early cues that there might be some discomfort, frustration or confusion brewing.
2. When faced with a difficult behavior make a conscious effort to take a few deep breaths and use a calm and clear response in a soft, but firm, voice.
3. Make sure you are using compassion to understand the cause of the discomfort.
4. Refrain from confronting and/or arguing with a distressed person, instead creatively and cheerfully redirect attention to something which will generate more acceptable behavior.

During a recent visit to the Impression Five Museum we had a chance to use our own advice on managing behaviors during a community immersion. One of our guests was totally enthralled with the fact that there was a group of children having a birthday party at the museum. It was clear that our guy was not going to be easily diverted from “crashing” this party. Because we maintained our calm the situation did not escalate and the folks from the birthday party were gracious enough to share a shiny balloon and soda.

Better Care Notes and Documentation


better care notes requires a positive focusLately, professional documentation of care notes has been a concern for both care providers and clients. Better care notes serve as a guide for parents and their case managers to know what our care provider and their child have done during their time together. Care notes are used as data to mark the progress of the child and/or concerns that the care provider may have for this child. As a parent, please do not hesitate to ask the care provider to go into greater detail in the care notes, or request that the care notes be rewritten.

Care providers, here are some words of advice to address some of the common concerns about care notes:

How to Write Better Care Notes

1.Make sure all your documentation is professional

2.Use proper grammar in your documentation. There should be no slang.
Write “out of,” not “outta”
Write “had snot and drool,” not “was snotty” (could be misunderstood)

3.Write your name and care notes legibly and neatly. Especially on the medication sheet.

4.Remember to write the facts about what happened, not subjective opinions.
For example, stating a client was being “testy.”  This is opinionated/labeling. Please note clear facts.

5,On shift duties and medication records, be sure to sign your initials or write “n/a” on each line if the duty did not apply to you on your shift. At the end of your shift, make sure there are no blank lines.

6.Try to “paint a picture” of what happened in your documentation so that anyone who reads it has a clear idea of what happened on your shift.
For example, “his pants are wet…as of right now they are in the washer,” should be clear and state that the care provider assisted the client by changing his pants when they were wet.
7.Document when clients get their showers: if the client assisted and with what (i.e. washing their own hair and body).
8.Document the specific activities you did with each client on your shift, where you went, what they did by themselves and what you assisted with. For example, you can state, “I drove Amy to the park and pushed her on the swings. She appeared happy because she was smiling and clapping her hands.

Remember to always include what goals are being addressed!