Providing Breaks for Family Caregivers: A Toolkit for Volunteers and Faith Communities

From the Alabama Lifespan Respite Resource Network

The number of family caregivers and the need for quality respite care in our state is significant. However, current resources are limited, expensive and often difficult to access. Caregiving families are often so focused on the task of providing around-the-clock care that they become isolated. Often, families drop out of the faith community at the time when support is most needed.

A respite ministry can be a great way to bring caregivers back into the faith community and demonstrate a commitment to supporting them. Faith-based groups may already have a foundation of trust within their community and this can give caregivers reassurance that their loved ones will be properly cared for in their absence. Involvement in a respite ministry often gives members a new-found awareness of the barriers that prevent people with disabilities or health issues from fully participating in the faith community. With this understanding comes the possibility of a more inclusive community that is welcoming to people with special needs and their families. These families are thus able to participate more fully and feel a sense of belonging.

Faith communities have a lot to offer in terms of their capacity to provide respite. Limited resources are available for respite programs. Faith communities already have many of the resources that are needed. Availability of facilities, stability of finances, and a wealth of volunteers make faith communities a good option for respite programs. Most likely congregants provide a source of untapped talents that can be put to good use through a respite ministry. Starting a respite program need not be expensive.

This faith-based guide will provide your faith community with some tools to begin a caregiver and/or and a respite ministry. Alabama Respite is committed to working alongside your faith community and providing the assistance, training and encouragement needed to develop and sustain a ministry of this type. Please contact Alabama Respite at (256) 859-4900 to learn more!

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