Respite can be a much-needed service for care families. It allows caregivers and their children to get a break, it can help prevent burnout, or in Dyadic Developmental Practice (DDP), help prevent blocked-care.
A poorly planned respite weekend can cause stress for everyone involved; respite provider, the child, and the care family.
Respite needs to be carefully considered and planned. We need to make respite as natural as possible, with someone that is known to the young person. It is good if the invite comes from the respite provider, so it is like the young person is “asked to”, not ‘’sent to.” This is in turn making the young person feel good about the respite and themselves, it’s not like they are being sent away because they are bad, or the caregiver cannot manage them. It is also easier if there has been a visit with the respite family beforehand.
If you start to think about needing a break, start planning as this can take time to organize. If you leave it too long and it becomes an emergency, what is meant to be a relaxing break, can be traumatizing for all involved, especially young people with attachment issues.
The young people in your care need predictability and going to a completely different environment can invoke all kinds of abandonment issues. We need to think about the child’s past experiences and what meaning they might make about what is about to happen. Often the children we care for have a need to retain some control so when making decisions on respite try to give them some. This can be difficult but some thought before arranging respite can provide a much smoother transition.
There have been members of support groups providing respite for one another and the transition and the respite have gone well, as the families are known to each other. The children have something in common and the environment is familiar.
All in all, please just give thought from the time you think you need respite through to it happening to make it as smooth as possible for the child. This will in turn make the transition coming back together a much happier one, well that’s the hope anyway.
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