Objective To describe the use of formal respite services among caregivers of children with cerebral palsy in Ontario and discuss the factors that may contribute to respite use and non‐use.
Methods A total of 468 caregivers were interviewed about their experience with formal respite services. Interviews were part of a larger cross‐sectional study on caregiver health. Caregivers were asked about their knowledge of formal respite services; their use of formal respite services in the past year; financial implications relating to formal respite use; perceived barriers to formal respite service use; and reasons for not using formal respite services (if applicable).
Results Nearly half (46%) of caregivers in the sample reported using respite services in the past year. Most of the caregivers who used respite services used more than one source of respite, had services provided in their home, often for less than 1 day, and reported using them more than six times. The most commonly cited reason for using formal respite services was for a planned break. Many factors influenced caregivers’ use of formal respite services. Caregivers who had a child with a lower level of function, with multiple additional conditions, or who was male, were more likely to use formal respite services. Although over 90% of caregivers indicated that respite use is beneficial for both their family and child, over 60% reported facing many barriers while attempting to access respite services.
Conclusion Results from this cross‐sectional study indicate that caregivers who used respite services used them frequently for breaks from caregiving. Caregivers described facing many barriers while attempting to access respite services therefore to improve caregiver's experience with respite services, strategies are suggested.