The Tennessee Respite Coalition Respite Voucher Program has served caregivers and their families for 17 years, typically providing care for 700 caregivers and their loved ones of any age or disability conditions each year. Tennessee’s Respite Voucher Program is recognized by ARCH as a Rising Star Respite Service in 2021 because of the adaptations they made to continue providing services to caregivers and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Early on during the pandemic, the Respite Voucher Program assessed caregiver needs using a client survey, based upon the COVID Survey study conducted at the University of Wisconsin School of Nursing, to assess what caregivers needed to feel supported. The program also collected qualitative data from caregivers during Zoom calls. Guided by the data they collected, the program responded to caregivers’ needs by providing care packages and mini-grants for caregiver-selected items, such as personal protective equipment, tablets enabling internet access to online support groups, home exercise equipment, and movie or magazine subscriptions. Expanding ideas of traditional respite services, the Tennessee Respite Voucher Program provided respite in innovative ways that allowed for safe social distancing, but maintained caregiver-provider contact in ways that kept caregivers socially connected during times of increased stress and isolation. To learn more about the Tennessee Respite Coalition Respite Voucher Program, please visit their website.
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