Page Reviewed / Updated - Mar. 2018
R.E.L.I.E.F. is an acronym for Respite for Elders Living in Everyday Families. This is a free in-home respite care program that provides trained volunteers to relieve persons who are caring for individuals with Alzheimer's Disease or a related dementia, or who are frail, elderly and unable to care for themselves. The program's larger goal is to reduce the placement of individuals in Medicaid-funded nursing homes, which it does through helping families care for loved ones in their home.
This program is managed by the Florida Area Agencies on Aging. Each local agency has its own specific eligibility requirements for their RELIEF program. However, the general requirement is that the family must be Florida residents who are unable to pay for respite care without compromising other basic needs. The individual in need of care must be 60+ years old and require assistance to remain living at home. If not for the provided respite care, the care recipient would be required to live in an assisted living facility or a nursing home. In addition, the applicant must be not be receiving other long-term care services.
The RELIEF program trains volunteer caregivers to visit low-income individuals in their homes and provide temporary caregiving assistance to relieve the primary caregivers of these responsibilities. (Some volunteer caregivers may be eligible to receive a stipend, as well as mileage reimbursement). This program also serves to provide alternative companionship to the elderly in need. Program staff makes efforts to appropriately match volunteer caregivers with families and elders. Personalities, hobbies, and skills are generally considered.
Respite care is usually provided for short periods of time, perhaps a 4-hour visit several times per month. Efforts are made to ensure consistency of caregivers and it is not uncommon for seniors and their volunteer caregivers to form friendships. Visits typically occur during evenings and weekends. The RELIEF program intends to compliment other services that primarily offer respite, adult day care, and other elder services during the daytime.
To apply for Project RELIEF respite care, individuals should contact their local Florida Area Agency on Aging. Additional information about this program can be found on the Florida Department of Elder Affairs website.