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NEWS Improving and Protecting the Health, Well-Being
and Self-Reliance of All Montanans.

March 7, 2011

DPHHS Hosts Lifespan Respite Summit

Helena’s Diana Tavary credits respite care for enabling her 20-year-old daughter with autism to remain at home.

“When our daughter was diagnosed with autism many years ago, our whole world changed,” Tavary said. “Respite care has allowed our daughter to remain at home and also provide much-needed assistance for my family.”

Tavary will tell her story as part of a panel that will discuss the need for respite in Montana during the Montana Lifespan Respite Summit on March 9, 2011 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Great Northern Hotel.

The event, hosted by the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), will bring together family caregivers, state agencies, statewide organizations, community groups, and respite providers.

The panel discussion begins at 10:30 a.m.

The event will also include a presentation from Maggie Edgar of the ARCH National Respite Network and Stevensville’s Leanna Costanza will also give a presentation called ‘Respite….What a Relief’.

In Montana, there are over 110,000 people who provide full time care in the home for loved ones who have a disability, are elderly, or who suffer from a mental illness.

Unfortunately, 88 percent of these caregivers never get a break from their full-time 24-hour-a-day caregiver responsibilities, said DPHHS Director Anna Whiting Sorrell. 

That is where respite care enters the equation. Respite care provides temporary relief to those who are providing the primary care to an individual. “Respite plays such a major role in the overall support services that families need to be able to provide care for a family member and remain in home,” Whiting Sorrell said. “This is a very important issue that has great potential to impact us all.”

Respite can be provided multiple ways, either by a local agency, family member or neighbor, says Doug Blakley of the DPHHS Senior and Long Term Care Division. “People who provide respite come from various backgrounds,” he said. “However, they all have the same goal and that is to provide some help to the full-time caregiver and allow their loved one to remain in the community.”

The purpose of the summit is to increase public awareness and encourage the use of respite services by caregivers in Montana, and energize key stakeholders to pursue additional ways to fund and deliver respite service.
In Helena, agencies that provide respite care include Family Outreach, Consumer Direct Personal Care, Melodee House and Montana Independent Living Program. Some nursing homes or assisted living facilities also offer respite.   

Lifespan respite is a coordinated system of accessible community-based respite care services for family caregivers of children or adults with special needs. This includes, but is not limited to individuals with developmental disabilities, other disabilities, mental health issues, aging, illness and child abuse.

In 2009, the U.S. Administration on Aging began funding states to implement State Lifespan Respite Programs.

The Montana Lifespan Respite Summit event is free and open to the public.
Page last updated: 07/30/2013