Job Description of a Respite Caregiver

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

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A respite caregiver provides a break for primary caregivers of people who need continuous care or monitoring. These primary caregivers usually are family members, who can be stressed and exhausted from trying to deal with work, home responsibilities and the disabled person as well. A respite caregiver is able to provide these people with some time away from their constant duties.


Respite caregivers work with a wide variety of people from many different types of backgrounds. A person they care for may have a terminal illness, a severe disabling disorder or Alzheimer's disease or may even be an autistic child. The caregivers must be able to communicate effectively and interact positively with the patient and the family members, as well as with other staff members at their employing agency.

Home Health Care

Home-health-care agencies employ respite caregivers to visit anindividual's home for the length of time requested by the primary caregiver. The respite caregivers might do some light housekeeping and prepare a meal or two. They may administer medications at certain times of day, help patients to the bathroom, and monitor behavior for any changes in health. Generally, just being there is the main job duty, available to prevent accidents or other mishaps and to call an emergency number if necessary.

Patient Records

Respite caregivers may work with the same people on a regular or intermittent basis, while also caring for clients they have never met before. They need to keep careful records of each patient's medical history, current health needs, and physical and mental abilities. They instruct the primary caregiver on the importance of posting emergency phone numbers, phone numbers of other family members or friends who can be called if necessary, and all medication information.

Day Care Services

Some respite caregivers work at day service centers for adults or children who are healthy enough and have the ability to leave the house for several hours. This job description might include helping with occupational therapy, assisting with recreational activities such as cards or bingo, and helping with basic daily living activities.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows salary information at between $8 and $14 an hour, with the average about $10.30, for most workers helping people who need routine care. This includes those working for home-health-care services, community care facilities, and individual and family services. Employment outlook is excellent at least through 2016, according to the bureau, because of an aging population needing service and hospitals trying to keep costs down by discharging patients as soon as possible. Improvements in medical technology for in-home treatment also are an important factor.