Respite care in a personal care home, or through an at-home personal care service, can be an option for some senior adults and their family caregivers during the holidays, suggests Mary Anderson, executive director at Willow Pond Personal Care.
"Sometimes families, they're still caring for their elder parents but then their kids are grown and have children, so those grandkids, they move away," Anderson said. "The grandma and grandpa, they want to go see the grandkids. Well, taking great-grandma and great-grandpa isn't always feasible."
So, family members who spend the year taking care of the great-grands can entrust them to a licensed care facility while traveling to see the younger generations. Or, she suggests, families might take advantage of the service in other ways during this busy season.
Willow Pond offers respite care in its residential facility on Country Club Road. Temporary residents entering respite care can stay from one day to 30 days.
Or, through the Willow Pond At Home service, caregivers will visit seniors who remain in their own homes for respite care.
"We offer either service," Anderson said. "We can come into your home and help you with your loved ones, your parents, or you can bring them here to Willow Pond and they can stay with us, eat our meals. We do their housekeeping. We treat them as if they were our permanent residents."
For example, any respite care clients staying at Willow Pond were entitled to take part in last Tuesday's "high tea," a special event to which residents invited friends for fancy snacks and punch. Short-term residents will also be included in holiday festivities and are welcome to take part in arts and crafts and other regular activities, Anderson said.
A daily rate is charged for respite care with a room at Willow Pond, so the fee is higher than the monthly rate for long-term care. However, the $130 daily rate includes three meals, snacks, all activities, laundry, cleaning, "everything," Anderson said.
For respite care at an individual's home, an hourly rate is charged.
"That can be three hours a day, four hours a day, up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Anderson said. "We work with the family to provide that service."
Some help available
Veterans or their surviving spouses, over age 65 or disabled, who qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit through the Department of Veterans Affairs, can use it to pay for respite care, Anderson said. This benefit is added to a VA pension for a recipient who needs help with tasks of everyday living, such as bathing, eating or dressing.
Some long-term care insurance also pays for respite care. Whether a particular policy covers the service is something each individual must determine with their insurer, Anderson noted.
Willow Pond opened in 1997. Today it is one of seven personal care homes owned by Georgia Living Management The home has 30 apartments in its regular personal care side, plus 11 in its secure memory care wing. The caregiver-to-resident ratio is a much lower, 4-to-1, on the memory care side, versus about 15-to-1 in regular personal care, but respite care is available in both areas at the same price.
Meanwhile, Willow Pond has about 30 visiting caregivers available for its at-home service. They can assist with meal planning and preparation, make sure clients are taking their medications on time, or just offer companionship.
Sometimes these caregivers also provide additional care to Willow Pond's residents, such as when one returns from the hospital.
Willow Pond is not a nursing facility, but Anderson, its administrator, is a registered nurse with more than 35 years nursing experience. She has a master's degree in management and was director of nursing at East Georgia Regional Medical Center for almost 10 years. Willow Pond residents and their families like having a nurse on staff, she said, and she visits each Willow Pond At Home client at least once each quarter.
As of Friday, Willow Pond had one respite care resident in memory care and one in personal care. That left room for seven more residents in respite situations.
Dr. Joseph Olson, 88, retired Georgia Southern University art professor and still an active artist, was there as a respite client in regular personal care. In 1988, Olson designed the city of Statesboro's current official seal, which is often used with city-related stories appearing in the Statesboro Herald. He brought his watercolors and brushes with him to Willow Pond and is painting of a view of the building and grounds.
"We try and make this as much like their homes as possible, so they bring a little bit of themselves here and their personal affects too," Anderson said. "It's their home."
Olson is there while his wife is at a different facility in town recovering from a fall. He misses her but said he is enjoying dining with a little group of men, some already his friends, he found at Willow Pond. Anderson has been talking to Olson and his daughter about Mrs. Olson possibly also coming to Willow Pond for respite care.
Anderson acknowledged that respite care is also potentially a way for some seniors to transition to Willow Pond as a long-term home.
"We incorporate them like one of our own, which makes the potential transition to Willow Pond as a place to live in the future easier," she said.