How to start your own respite home

Written by carolyn kay neeley
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When family caregivers need a break, they seek respite care -- someone to temporarily care for their ailing relative. Respite care is customarily provided in the individual's home by volunteer caregivers who have no formal health-care training, but a respite home is different. It provides temporary, around-the-clock care in a homelike facility. Since starting a respite home is a highly specialised business endeavour and providing respite care may cause you to be considered a health-care provider in some states, carefully research the laws in your area to ensure you're in compliance.

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    Obtain training and certification as a health-care giver if you do not possess this already. Becoming a licensed nurse or certified nursing assistant will allow you to legally provide home health care in most states, as long as you consult with and receive permission to provide care from the patient's physician.

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    Decide what services you will offer and what kind of persons you are willing to provide care to. For instance, you may choose to accept only individuals who are independently ambulatory, meaning that they can walk without a walker or other assistive devices. Or you may be equipped to handle individuals with dementia, other cognitive disorders, or those who use oxygen tanks. Have a clear understanding of your potential primary client base and what kinds of services you are skilled in before continuing.

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    Determine where your respite home will be located. You may wish to purchase or lease a larger home, a former hotel or similar structure specifically for your business or you may wish to build an entirely new facility. When first starting your business, it may be beneficial to provide care in your own home if you have an extra bedroom or two, but pay careful attention to zoning laws in your area.

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    Ensure the safety of your respite home, making sure it meets all appropriate regulations governing group homes or respite care facilities in your state. Generally, laws surrounding this type of health-care arrangement are less strict than those regulating long-term care facilities and hospitals, but you will need to make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed, railings and safety gates where appropriate, the plumbing and electricity are in good working condition, and there are no obvious safety hazards. You may be required to have an inspection by a local licensing or public health agency before you can begin providing respite care.

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    Apply for a business license and business name certificate from your local governing agency. Depending on the rules in your state or county, you may be classified as a health-care facility, inn, hotel or other similar institution. If you have any questions at all about the specific licenses or permits you will need, consult an attorney or your local government office.

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    Obtain liability insurance as a caregiver and coverage for your business. Additionally, if you will be using your vehicle to transport clients at any time, obtain adequate vehicle insurance.

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    Develop a caregiving contract and agreement that specifies what services you provide, the maximum length of time you can legally provide respite care, and the general policies of your respite home. Additionally, create a file for each client that contains a copy of this contract, his or her medical records, physician information, and emergency contact information.

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