Care giving is a rewarding yet complicated job. It requires time, patience, and love to take care of the intimate needs of another. Being the caregiver of a person with special needs can cause frustration, burnout, and poor health. Primary caregivers often neglect their own health and well-being. In fact, they have higher rates of disease and early death than the general population. The long days, sleepless nights, and stress of being a caregiver have a cumulative effect and can even lead to abuse, neglect, violence and suicide.

Individuals with a learning disability or another special healthcare need require a caregiver with unique characteristics. Empathy, compassion, patience, good communication skills, and physical strength are only some of the requirements of effective caregiving. Care givers that are trained and experienced are rare. Some work at facilities like epilepsy care homes and autism care homes. Others only work on a volunteer basis. There is surely a shortage of competent and caring caregivers. This means that the vast majority of caregiving falls on the shoulders of family. Caregiving becomes a full time job. There are programs and government assistance to assist primary caregivers but these do not go far in eliminating fatigue and burnout.

The best way to reduce the stress of being a caregiver is having access to regular, affordable, and safe respite care. Respite care facilities include independent living facilities for people with learning disabilities, epilepsy care homes, autism group homes, and even overnight nursing care funded by insurance companies and Medicaid. These and other respite programs are proven to work. Much research has been done to study their effectiveness and the numbers are clear; respite care works. It translates into happier, healthier primary caregivers who report feeling more fulfilled in their roles and better outcomes for those with special needs. Caregivers get distracted less often and report being better able to focus. There are fewer instances of abuse, neglect, and violence, especially among male primary caregivers.

There are several very important factors involved with finding the right respite care. There is a short list of these factors. First, make sure that respite caregivers have no criminal record. This is typically a requirement for employment at most agencies. Second, ask tough questions. What procedures are in place to monitor for abuse? What hiring practices are in place to hire caregivers that keep clients safe? What kind of insurance does the company have? Can I drop by unexpectedly to check on my loved one? Third, check ratings and reviews online. Fourth, check to see if the company is a member of the Better Business Bureau. If it is, how have they handled complaints? Following these steps will help find great respite care.

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This week's #MondayMotivation is to be keep going, even when situations get tough! #MotivationMonday#ThrowbackThursday to the Chalk Walk when Bridges of Indiana created beautiful artwork!Bridges of Wyoming is celebrating DSP Week with an appreciation BBQ. Swipe to see more! Check out our story highlights to see how we are recognizing our DSPs across the nation this week #DSPRW2018Columbus, Indiana client Bradley Lain makes pillows. The pillows are all handmade and filled with pine shavings. We are happy to share these pictures with you because Bradley would like to grow his business. If you are interested in one of Bradley’s pillows, you may contact:

mariahgentry@bridges.us
jenniferwells@bridges.us
or brandonmorris@bridges.usGinny Rundel graduated from Indiana State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. In addition, she has a Master’s of Science in Human Services from Lubbock Christian University. Ginny has over 20 years of experience working with children in various capacities. 
Many of the children Ginny has worked with throughout her career have had various needs. These needs have included low socioeconomic status, developmental disabilities, or being victims of child abuse or neglect. Ginny enjoys working with families and helping them try to see past their current circumstances to the potential within themselves and the possibilities that lie before them. 
Please send inquiries to Gina Daniels, Consumer Advocate. Gina's contact information is 317-601-5592 and ginadaniels@bridges.us.This week's #MondayMotivation is to be confident! #MotivationMondayDo you follow Bridges on Twitter? If not, you should!On August 22nd, Jonathan Burlison (CEO of Bridges) presented a white paper to the Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Task Force on the topic of Military Waiver Slots. The goal of the task force is to create legislation to provide freedom, choices and quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Learn more on the Bridges blog by clicking the link in our bio!