Volunteer Respite Manual

Creating Valuable Options for Family Caregivers

ARCH is pleased to provide the updated Volunteer Respite Manual: Creating Valuable Options for Family Caregivers.  Cover pic

Drawing on the experience in volunteer services among ARCH network members, ARCH’s recognized Innovative and Exemplary respite services, and Lifespan Respite grantees and their partners, this step-by-step manual will help national, state and community-based programs and faith-based initiatives assess needs, plan, and implement volunteer respite programs with special guidance on providing volunteer services during the pandemic. It will also assist Lifespan Respite grantees and partners in building respite capacity through volunteer training and recruitment. Topics include:

  • program planning and operations;

  • volunteer recruitment, training and management;

  • performance measurement;

  • policies and procedures;

  • liability and insurance; and

  • marketing.

Volunteer Respite during the Covid-19 Pandemic

During the current pandemic, social distancing policies have resulted in even greater social isolation among family caregivers. For many, respite may be their only link to services and support. As a result, many state and community-based respite services began immediately to plan for reopening and restarting respite services. To help them do so safely, ARCH recently released Voluntary National Guidelines on Providing and Receiving Respite Safely during the Pandemic. But respite services are still in short supply.   

Over the last decade, Lifespan Respite grantees and their partners, and many others, have turned to volunteer and faith-based approaches when resources were scarce and the supply of paid direct support workers in jeopardy.  An unprecedented reliance on volunteers emerged during the pandemic to deliver  –– at a distance –– food, support and comfort  to isolated families caring for both children and adults with health challenges, disabilities or aging related conditions. As we think about new ways to provide respite and support to family caregivers, volunteers will surely continue to have a significant role. 

Although this manual was designed to guide volunteer respite during pre-pandemic times, ways to safely recruit, train and utilize volunteers is more important than ever to ensure that respite services are widely available now and post-pandemic. Volunteer programs are strongly urged to consult guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, and state and local public health departments, before making the decision to use volunteers. ARCH’s Decision Guide for Respite can help providers consider whether and how to safely provide services. The Volunteer Respite Manual includes resources on how to train volunteers during a pandemic as well as guidelines on policies and procedures to have in place for programs deciding to provide volunteer services.



As you explore the ARCH Volunteer Respite Manual, you may find that you need additional resources and information to help you plan or implement your community volunteer respite program. We have gathered samples of job descriptions, volunteer application forms, orientation checklists, volunteer interview questions, background check forms, reference forms, policies and procedures, training resources and more.  This list of resources will continue to be updated and new resources added as they become available.

There are 7 sections on this page including:

Volunteer and Respite Handbooks

Volunteer Hiring  Resources

    1. Volunteer Application 

    2. Progam Interview Questions  

    3. Volunteer Reference Form  

Volunteer Orientation and Training

Volunteer Program Sample Policies and Procedures

Volunteer Evaluation Forms

Program Forms, Applications, and Replications Manuals of Highlighted Programs


MASTERPIECE R&R – Masterpiece Ministry - First Free Church


EASTERSEALS RESPITE SERVICES–Special Needs+Military Families

Family Forms:

Volunteer Forms:


Volunteering During the Pandemic

Disability Information and Training Resources 

More information coming soon.

There is a wealth of online resources on disability and health topics that you can use to  develop content for volunteer training. Some websites to explore include:

Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Learning Disabilities, Post-Polio Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Stroke

Neurological Conditions such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) , Multiple Sclerosis from the National Institute on Neurological Disoroders and Stroke (NINDS)

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Mental Health

More on Various Disabilities

Public Service Announcements and More




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