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Respite Done Right!


Allison Laupp, Marketing Director at Autumn View Gardens, Assisted Living in Ellisville MO, discusses the benefits of respite care.

Q: When do you suggest a respite stay to a family?

A: When a family or potential resident expresses hesitation or opposition about moving from home or making the lifestyle change, I will often bring up the option of a respite stay. At Autumn View Gardens (AVG; a subdivision of Bethesda Senior Living Communities), while we prefer to see a permanent move at the outset, sometimes we see strong opposition because it is such an overwhelming change for some people. It lessens their anxiety knowing that they don’t have to move their things in, they aren’t under a contract and that they aren’t committing to a move. All the fears of the unknown are dissolved.

When a family, who hasn’t planned for Assisted Living and is getting a quick discharge from rehab, is forced to make a decision that they are not prepared to make, panic can set in. Many times the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) is discharging to “home” and the family realizes that their loved one isn’t ready or simply cannot go home. A respite stay gives our community the ability to work quickly for families and it buys them time to secure movers, and even settle on a permanent residence. Often, when a Medicare part A stay ends, the potential resident will qualify for Medicare part B—which we have full-time in our building through RehabCare. Sometimes the potential resident will initially agree to do a respite stay solely to take advantage of our on-site therapy. I am proud to say that in most cases, he/she will ultimately enjoy the community and decide to stay. If we are doing our job right, the family will quickly feel that they need to look no further.

Q: What is the length of time AVG provides respite care?

A: We provide care for 3–30 days. I often suggest a longer stay than three days, otherwise our potential resident doesn’t get the benefit of experiencing all the services and activities. However, depending on the circumstances, it can be worth it! I personally recommend at least two weeks because with any major change it takes time to adjust and relax. People are just orienting to our community the first few days, and after two weeks they will have a good feel for the community.

Q: You’ve had success with converting respite residents to permanent residents. What do you attribute your success to?

A: Sitting down with families and getting to know them and their specific needs from the beginning helps with conversions. For example, if you know from the beginning that the family would support a long-term move, you can work together to get the resident on-board. I really believe in what we do, and the outcomes residents and their families will see. Respite is a way for me to show the confidence we have in our community. Telling a family how wonderful we are is great, but showing them is even better. We welcome our respite residents the same way we would if they were permanent. My end goal of respite is very rarely a temporary stay. I understand that they are coming to us for a reason, and that in most cases they will eventually have to move. So, why not continue to live in our community where they’re happy and only move once?

Q: Have you seen residents overall health improve during a respite stay?

A: Absolutely! Most residents who are considering Assisted Living haven’t been thriving in their current living situation, or they’re still recovering from a recent rehab or hospital stay. Our meals, activities, assistance (available 24/7), socialization, exercise, on-site therapy, etc. all come together for respite residents. And often their improvement is quick!

Q: What would you say to a family who is thinking of respite care for their loved one?

A: Normally, the families are the ones pushing for a move to Assisted Living and they need our help to encourage their loved one to make the transition. If a family I am working with is considering respite stay I feel excited, especially if their biggest concern is whether or not their loved one will enjoy their stay and agree to move. I reiterate all the reasons why our community would benefit them and help them thrive, but add that, with respite, they will receive all of the amenities without locking into a contract. It often sets the potential resident at ease knowing that they don’t have to move their furniture, they aren’t financially committing and they have a way to test the waters while simultaneously appeasing their family.

If you want to learn more about respite stays at Autumn View Gardens, Ellisville call (636) 458-5225. Or visit our Find A Community page if you’re curious about one of our other 19 communities nationwide.

Allison has worked at Autumn View Gardens for over 3 years. She is a wife and mother of two little ones, Owen (4) and Natalie (almost 2). When she’s not working, she is usually with her family enjoying the outdoors. Before working at Autumn View Gardens, Allison was a National Director of Marketing for a small manufacturer’s representative firm. It was an intense and exciting position, but not nearly as rewarding as helping seniors and being part of a team that, as she states, “I consider to be like family.”