The New Jersey Statewide Respite Care Program (SRCP) relieves an unpaid caregiver of his or her caregiving responsibilities by providing trained professionals who supervise or act as a companion to the individual in need of care. The goal of this program is not only to relieve the primary caregiver of his or her caretaking duties, but also to avoid unnecessary nursing home placement of elderly individuals.
Respite care is offered short term in the individual’s home, in adult day care centers, in the homes of the temporary caregiver, or overnight in some locations. The program’s name is somewhat misleading, as the Respite Care Program offers caregivers more than just respite care. Homemaker services and private duty nursing are also potential benefits. The program also recognizes that many elderly individuals are sensitive to who provides them with assistance. As such, the program allows primary caregivers to select the individual or organization from which they receive care services (within certain guidelines, of course).
This program is administered statewide by the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services, but is managed at the local level by the Aging and Disability Resource Centers.
The SRC Program takes into consideration both the needs of care recipients and their caregivers when determining eligibility.
Care Recipient Eligibility
Care recipients must be NJ residents of at least 18 years of age who require minimal daily care due to a functional impairment or frailty. A medical provider must verify the need for care. As of 2020, the value of an individual’s financial assets cannot exceed $40,000 if they are single or $60,000 if married. (This excludes an individual’s primary home and personal effects, such as clothes and household items).
Monthly income is also a consideration and cannot exceed 300% of Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). In 2020, this means the care recipient’s monthly income cannot exceed $2,349 and a married couple’s income cannot exceed $4,698. Those whose income exceeds this limit may be offered respite care, but required to pay a portion of the cost, up to 25%. A sliding scale based on income determines the amount of one’s co-payment.
Caregivers do not need to be related to the care recipient, but they cannot be receiving payment for their caregiving services. Program regulations are vague as to whether the caregiver must reside with the care recipient or simply be their primary caregiver. The income and assets of the caregiver are not considered. However, they must be 18 years of age or older.
Respite care can be provided in the care recipient’s home, either for a set number of hours or overnight. It can also be provided out-of-home, in an adult day care center or other licensed medical facility, such as an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Respite care providers can also offer assistance with other homemaker activities during their visits such as laundry, meal preparation, and errands. Agency directed respite care is capped at $4,500 / year, and caregiver directed respite care is capped at $3,000 / year.
There are several options to help potential program participants learn more about the Statewide Respite Care Program or apply for assistance. Candidates can call the toll-free number for the Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 877-222-3737 or visit their local Area Agency on Aging or ADRC. Contact information is available here.
Additional program information is provided on the state’s webpage.