Respite helps seniors, caregivers

Written By Scott Taylor

Respite is a service offered by Caledon Community Services (CCS), but it would be better described as a lifeline for seniors who just need a little help going from here to there, doing chores, or even craving a little company.

The official description of respite on the CCS website says, “Respite workers provide non-medical care and companionship for seniors and adults with disabilities within their homes. Respite workers supervise and support individuals so their regular caregivers can have some time away from care giving responsibilities.”

Of course, that’s an apt description, but there’s much more to it than that.

“Our program has been around since around 1994 and it operates in a brokerage model,” said Kim Shadlock, senior manager, health services for CCS said. “In this model we act as a link between the individual seeking respite companionship services and the those willing to provide those services. Once we link them then they build a relationship together.”

That relationship is crucial because a respite worker — which is not the same as a personal care worker — needs to be in tune with their client and the client needs to be able to trust them and enjoy their company.

“Respite is an opportunity to provide some relief to a caregiver, to provide companionship. It might be some light housekeeping. One recent experience I’ve had with a client is they loved to cook, so they had a respite worker come in and support the process. They had some health issues and they needed the support.”

Respite workers also drive seniors to appointments or spend time with the client so the caregiver can make it to an appointment of their own.

“Companionship is a big element of it, but if there are other things they may want the respite worker to participate with the client in, it’s negotiated between the respite worker and the client and the caregiver of that client,” Shadlock said. The process begins when Shadlock first connects with the client for an assessment. “It’s really basic information to understand their circumstances, their mobility, any language issues, any cognitive issues, that kind of thing.” Once that assessment has been done, Shadlock provides the names of three workers. Then it’s up to the patient to contact one or all of them. The client can select all of them, if they want, with each coming over on a separate day.

The important thing is the client and primary caregiver feel comfortable with the worker. Once that’s achieved, the relationship builds into a friendship that benefits everyone. For more information, call 905-584-2300 or visit

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