Respite Provider Training and Credentialing Resources

The purpose of this page is to share respite provider training resources and ideas. 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.

We are in the midst of a direct care workforce crisis and well-trained respite providers are and will continue to be a valuable resource.

Direct Care Workers are also known as Direct Service Workers (DSW) and may include home care aides, certified nursing assistants, personal care assistants and respite providers, among others.

Advocacy and Clearinghouse Information

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. For more information, click here.

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 and the DSW Core Competency Project. 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 Final Report and review the Final Competency Set. 

PHI State Data Center. In collaboration with the DSW Resource Center, PHI has created this database of state profiles of the direct service workforce. For state-by-date workforce information, click here. PHI offers Workforce Development and Curriculum Design Services.

Core Competencies and Related Training for DSW

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 website.

General Training Guides and Surveys

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.

Respite Provider and Other Direct Care Training and Certifications

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.

College of Direct Support
The College of Direct Support (CDS) is a computer-assisted, competency-based, interactive multimedia training curriculum for direct support professionals in community settings. 

Diverse Elders Coalition
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 Coalitions 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
  • Hispanic Caregivers
  • LGBT Caregivers
  • Southeast Asian American Caregivers


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, click here.

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
The Nebraska Lifespan Respite Program and a team of respite partners created an online respite provider training to serve the needs of providers across divisions of the NE Department of Health and Human services. To maintain their listing on the registry, all NE Lifespan Respite Network screened providers must satisfactorily complete the training. The online Respite Provider training is being incorporated into the Student Service Learning college pilot curriculum.  This pilot, being implemented statewide beginning July 2017, offers a respite certificate for certified nursing assistant students. Additional training modules for specific topics of interest to respite providers to improve the quality/effectiveness of a respite experience for the family caregiver and care receiver are planned.  To see the training, you must establish an account with Answers4Families. Additional training information and calendar available from the NE Lifespan Respite Network.

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 Services. 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 Families (Primary Caregivers); and 2) Respite Caregivers (Individual Respite Providers). Read more.


Wisconsin Lifespan Caring Network Training
Easter Seals Wisconsin and the Respite Care Association of Wisconsin developed a Lifespan Caring Network Training to prepare providers with required skills to provide in-home respite care for individuals with a variety of disabilities, including highly challenging behaviors, and basic medical and personal care needs. Lifespan Caring Network Training is an online course, and is designed for people providing care to individuals of varying disabilities and ages. The course covers: Disability Basics, Lifts & Transfers, Personal Care/ Daily Living Skills, Medication Administration, Communication Techniques, Abuse and Neglect, Caring for Challenging Behaviors, Free Time Activities, and Making Connections (meeting/ training with the family). Participants work at their own pace and makes use of videos, worksheets and quizzes to test the knowledge of participants. For more information, click here.  


Daily Living/Residential Curriculum and Training for Direct Support Providers to Adults with Autism

Developed by The Autism Research Institute (ARI)'s Autistic Global Initiative using a multi-disciplinary team of 15 curriculum experts,this training is designed to build capacity in residential adult services wherever adults with autism live, including in private homes with their families, group residential settings, assisted living, agricultural, and intentional communities. The 750-page curriculum package encompasses six full days of training and contains information and hands-on tools for implementation. For more information, visit the Autism Research Institute.


Volunteer Respite Provider Training

Volunteer Respite Manual: Creating Valuable Options for Family Caregivers, click here. 
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.

Child Respite Provider Training/Certification Resources

Maine's Respite for Me 
Training is available for respite providers offered by NAMI Maine that is part of a certification program. You can access an overview of the training modules here.  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:The 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. For more information: Click here.

Dementia Training and Certification

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.


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.