Respite Provider Training and Credentialing Resources
We are in the midst of a direct care workforce crisis. Despite the worker shortage, well-trained respite providers are and will continue to be a valuable resource. The purpose of this page is to share respite provider training resources and ideas to encourage development and expansion of respite provider training opportunities.
ARCH in collaboration with the National Academy for State Health Policy and the Respite Care Association of Wisconsin field tested a competency-based online respite provider training curriculum for entry-level respite providers in 10 pilot sites. The Respite Care Association of Wisconsin developed the training curriculum, helped advance a newly developed recruitment campaign among the pilot sites, and is working with ARCH and an evaluation consultant to monitor the effectiveness and reach of the training and marketing strategies. Read more.
Additional nationally recognized direct service professional competencies and training resources are listed here. We have not endorsed any particular training curricula or credentialing program. If you would like to know if these efforts have been evaluated, please contact the program directly. If you have something you would like to add or notice information that needs to be reviewed, please let us know. This website is maintained by ARCH as an informational resource for the public. It is not meant to be an all-inclusive, original or comprehensive resource. Links to websites of other organizations or service providers are included for information, but we make no representation or warranties, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy of the information, or the effectiveness of the training.
Direct Care Workers are also known as Direct Service Workers (DSW) or Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and may include home health aides, home care aides, certified nursing assistants, personal care assistants and respite providers, among others.
Under the Lifespan Respite Care Program, the Administration for Community Living awarded funds to the Center for Health Policy Development, National Academy for State Health Policy to complement the work of the Lifespan Respite Technical Assistance and Resource Center at ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center. The purpose of the award is to address respite access, workforce issues, and expansion of natural supports that have since emerged as recommendations in the National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers.
Through this Lifespan Respite Special Project, ARCH partnered with NASHP to advance a workforce development initiative that developed and tested, with the goal of scaling, a respite workforce recruitment, training, and retention program to better meet the needs of culturally and geographically diverse families, with particular attention to the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce.
Joining this effort as a subcontractor is the Respite Care Association of Wisconsin (RCAW). RCAW was key in developing the enhanced training curriculum and designing the recruitment strategies. The initiative is being evaluated by Dr. Kim Whitmore at Marquette University College of Nursing and Ujima United.
Expert Work Group on Core Competencies
ARCH convened an Expert Workgroup that participated in an extensive review of existing core competencies and evidence-based frameworks developed by national and state organizations, governmental entities, and universities in training curriculum for direct support professionals and respite providers. The workgroup then helped to identify core competencies specific for respite providers. These core competencies were used to enhance an existing respite provider training curriculum that was field tested it in ten states. The effort will be evaluated, and a replication toolkit developed.
Respite Provider Core Competencies, Course Descriptions, and Link to Training
These Respite Care Professional Core Competencies, developed in consultation with the Expert Work Group and submitted for public comments, are meant to serve as a baseline for entry-level respite care professionals, to encourage consistent and high quality national training approaches for respite providers serving all ages and conditions, and contribute to the larger goal of addressing the respite provider shortage.
An online training for entry-level respite providers has been enhanced to meet these nationally recognized core competencies. Each of the ten courses meets at least one competency. Read the Course Descriptions.
Learn more and sign up for the training that includes state-specific modules. The training is available in both English and Spanish. Please note that the training curriculum may be modified in the next few months based on lessons learned from the Respite Provider Training and Recruitment field test.
Respite Provider Training and Recruitment Pilot
The following pilot sites were selected to field test the competency-based and enhanced entry-level respite provider training curriculum and a specialized recruitment campaign. Pilot sites were selected for their experience, capacity and readiness to participate in the 12-month pilot.
Pilot Status 2024
The pilot has now concluded. Data are being analyzed and a comprehensive evaluation report will be prepared. The training will be modified to incorporate lessons learned from the field test and a replication tool kit will be developed and made available nationally.
2022 National HCBS Conference
National/State Partnership to Launch a Respite Provider Recruitment and Training Initiative.
2022 National Lifespan Respite Conference
National Lifespan Respite Recruitment, Training & Retention Pilot Project - Part 1: Ideation. PPT Presentation
National Lifespan Respite Recruitment, Training & Retention Pilot Project - Part 2: Pilot Sites. PPT Presentation
National Lifespan Respite Recruitment, Training & Retention Pilot Project - Part 3: Evaluation & Replication. PPT Presentation
The Eldercare Workforce Alliance is a group of 25 national organizations, representing consumers, family caregivers, the direct-care workforce, and healthcare professionals. This group was formed in response to the Institute of Medicine's report Re-Tooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce to address the immediate and future workforce crisis in caring for an aging America and to propose practical solutions to strengthen our eldercare workforce and improve the quality of care. Visit the Eldercare Workforce Alliance website.
National Direct Service Worker Resource Center has closed. However, many resources and best practices on training and recruiting direct care workers can now be found on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Workforce Initiative website. One document, Building Capacity and Coordinating Support for Family Caregivers and the Direct Service Workforce, emerged from a Leadership Summit convened by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in September 2010. The leaders in attendance at the Summit, including ARCH, AoA and the Family Caregiver Alliance, ultimately articulated 12 common goals, each with specific policy recommendations. Read the white paper.
PHI State Data Center. In collaboration with the DSW Resource Center, PHI created a database of state profiles of the direct service workforce. Explore state-by-data and national workforce information in PHI's Workforce Data Center. PHI offers Workforce Development and Curriculum Design Services.
The Direct Service Workforce (DSW) Core Competency Project from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
Phase IIIB of the Road Map of Core Competencies for Direct Service Workforce Project Validation serves as the final report for the project and includes the fully validated core competency set. The full report includes the resources listed below:
The DSW Core Competencies Companion Guide is designed to assist stakeholders in applying the core competencies to DSW development efforts.
More information on the CMS Workforce Initiative can be found on the CMS DSW Core Competency Project website.
Supporting and strengthening the direct care workforce is a priority for the Administration for Community Living (ACL). Living in the community and participating fully in community life often depends on the availability of services and supports provided by this workforce. The shortage of direct care workers has a negative impact on the availability of respite care providers as well. Visit ACL's direct care workforce webpage to find federal resources focused on recruiting, training, retention, and self-direction.
Survey of Provider Needs for Respite Training
Determining Provider Needs for Respite Training, Results of an Alabama Survey
by Geiger, B.F. and O’Neal, M. R. (2014). Sage Open. First published online December 21, 2014.
ARCH's Step-by-Step Guide to Successful Training: A trained staff is essential for effective delivery of safe and quality services. This guidebook was developed to help trainers create and implement interactive, quality training experiences. It contains ideas for visual aids and other props and guidance on how to evaluate the training. 41 pages; $10.00. Order online.
PHI - Quality Care through Quality Jobs
PHI develops interactive curricula and training programs designed for adult learners that help direct care workers build the knowledge, skills, and confidence to deliver quality care.
Read PHI's report, Best Practices in State-Sponsored Personal Care Aide Training Curricula: Lessons from Six States (November 2018). Six states–Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, and Washington—have developed model curricula for statewide implementation. This report examines these state-sponsored curricula to identify best practices in training methods and content for PCAs and other direct care workers.
The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP)
NADSP has developed a national certification program for Direct Support professionals working in community human services. The purpose of this certification program is to provide national recognition for the contributions and competence of Direct Support Professionals who apply for and meet the certification standards.
Direct Course and College of Direct Support
Direct Course provides standardized, tailored online training for the direct service workforce. The College of Direct Support competency-based curriculum was developed by the subject matter experts at the Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota.
Diverse Elders Coalition Diversity Training
Free online trainings are available through the Family Caregiving for Diverse Elders Resource Hub for organizations and communities to learn best practices to support diverse family caregivers. The Diverse Elders Coalition offers modules to support Caregivers from all and/or the specific following communities:
African American Caregivers
American Indian and Alaska Native Caregivers
Asian American Caregivers
Southeast Asian American Caregivers
See more respite provider training tools from State Lifespan Respite grantees and State Respite Coalition.
Arizona Direct Care Workforce (DCW) Initiative
This is a public-private partnership that seeks to promote a stable and competent direct care workforce to meet the growing care needs in Arizona and provide support for families in their efforts to care for their loved ones at home and in the community. For more information, visit the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System website.
Iowa's Prepare to Care
The Iowa Department of Public Health and University of Iowa College of Nursing have developed classroom training in the Core training, as well as five advanced modules (Home and Community Living, Personal Support, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, Personal Activities of Daily Living, and Health Monitoring and Maintenance). The Core training is available as an online course. After successfully completing the course, students receive a certificate of completion. For more information about the other training options, classes, and the advanced certificate exams available, visit Prepare to Care.
Nebraska Lifespan Respite Network Online Provider Orientation
The purpose of the Nebraska Lifespan Respite Network (NLRN) Online Provider Orientation is to provide basic information about what it takes to be a respite provider and the tools needed to be successful. The orientation training is mandatory for all NLRN respite providers. Additional training is available both online and and in-person. Read more.
South Carolina Respite Coalition Respite Provider Training
SC Respite Coalition developed a respite training course for the SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs’ (DDSN) Family-Selected Respite Program. This training is an open-entry, self-paced, online course. It has been designed to provide the basic information that is needed to meet the minimum training requirements to participate in DDSN’s Family-Selected Respite program. Training has been developed for two groups: 1) Consumers and Household Employers); and 2) Respite Care Providers (Hired by the Household Employer). Read more.
Wisconsin Respite Care Provider Training
The Respite Care Provider Training (RCPT), initially developed by the Respite Care Association of Wisconsin (RCAW), is designed for people interested in providing respite care to individuals with varying disabilities and ages across the lifespan. It is an entry-level training program suitable for individuals who have never provided respite before and individuals who are currently respite providers. Learners can work at their own pace to complete the ten required online courses, stopping and starting as needed. There is no cost for the courses in this program.
Upon completing the Respite Care Provider Training, learners earn a certificate of completion. They will also be offered the opportunity to be added to the Wisconsin Respite Care Registry, available to family caregivers to search for Respite Care Providers in their community.
This training provided the basis for the national competency-based training recently field tested by RCAW and ARCH in partnership with the National Academy for State Health Policy and can be accessed by all states and respite programs to use.
Read more about the Wisconsin Respite Care Provider Training.
Volunteer Respite Manual: Creating Valuable Options for Family Caregivers
This ARCH manual does not contain specific respite provider training curricula, but does provide specific direction on how to train and what should be included in training curricula. See Disability and Training Resources for information that could be included in a training curriculum on specific disabilities.
Maine's Respite for Me
Training is available for respite providers offered by NAMI Maine that is part of a certification program. Access an overview of the training modules. This web-based training program is specific to the requirements of the State of Maine.
Idaho's Respite Care Provider Training Manual is a collaborative effort between Region II Children's Mental Health Council, University of Idaho Center on Disabilities and Human Development, State of Idaho Children's Mental Health Program, and Idaho Federation of Families, Inc. for Children's Mental Health. The Manual is designed to be used as a training guide for people who are interested in being a respite care provider. The manual is a three ring binder of information and talking points, a DVD of video clips, and downloadable copies of handouts for participants. The manual includes the following information: Module I Overview; Module II Culture and Values; Module III Safety; Module IV Respite Care Provider Rules and Responsibilities; Module V Managing Challenging behaviors. Cost: $20 + $5.00 shipping and handling fee. Publication Date: 2008. Order here.
SafeGuards of Ontario, Canada offers an open-entry, self-paced online course designed to prepare individuals to work in respite support situations and to provide a basic level of training for current respite workers. Those who are already working in the field may find it useful to take the course to explore areas they are less familiar with to ensure they have a full understanding of all skills required. They also offer a course for those working with children with autism. Learn more.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) believes strongly that the healthcare system could improve dementia care through pre-employment initial training as well as ongoing in-service training. AFA offers two national training programs that are specifically designed to raise the bar on dementia care in the United States:
1) AFA developed Excellence in Care to partner with care settings in the establishment of a nationwide standard of excellence in care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease or related dementias. Excellence in Care offers the opportunity for facilities to ensure that their dementia care settings meet the optimal care needs of their residents/clients. The program, created with the Avila Institute of Gerontology and other industry experts, consists of a comprehensive on-site evaluation and consultation on strategies to achieve the established standards for quality of care and to sustain performance. Key areas of review include: environment, education, staff-client interaction and programming. Care settings that successfully reach the standards established by this initiative will earn the status of Alzheimer's Foundation of America Excellence in Care Dementia Program of Distinction. Click here
2) Dementia Care Professionals of America (DCPA) is a division of AFA and offers membership, training, qualification and other benefits to individual healthcare professionals involved in dementia care such as: physicians; psychiatrists; geriatric professionals; nurses and nursing home, assisted living, and adult day program staff; physician assistants; dentists and pharmacists; home health and personal care aides; physical, recreational, and occupational therapists; nutritionists, dieticians, social workers, and case managers; and owners, directors, presidents and administrators from long-term care, home health, hospital, adult day, and counseling industries. DCPA provides practical training to healthcare professionals, sets standards of excellence through our AFA qualification program, keeps professionals abreast of emerging breakthroughs in treatment and care, and supports professionals as they support those in need. Learn more.
Dementia Learning Modules for Caregivers
Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), 2017
Currently more than five million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease. Training for the primary care workforce about dementia, and caring for those affected, is essential. HRSA, with partners, has created a curriculum for health educators to train the primary care workforce about dementia care, and to help providers address caregiver needs.
Modules 1-12 contain information about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias of particular interest to the primary care workforce. Modules 13-16 specify the roles of specific health care professions in dementia care. All 16 core modules include a PowerPoint presentation, with detailed notes, and a reference list, to assist with teaching and presentations. The modules focus primarily on outpatient rather than residential care because the majority of people remain in their homes during the earlier, and some even through later stages, of dementia. Access HRSA’s learning modules.