What Is Medical Respite Care?

Medical respite care is acute and post-acute care for people experiencing homelessness who are too ill or frail to recover from an illness or injury on the streets or in a shelter, but who do not require hospital-level care. Unlike “respite” for caregivers, “medical respite” is short-term residential care that allows individuals experiencing homelessness the opportunity to rest, recover, and heal in a safe environment while accessing medical care and other supportive services. Medical respite care is offered in a variety of settings including freestanding facilities, homeless shelters, motels, and transitional housing.

Standards for Medical Respite Care Programs

In October 2016, a task force of medical respite care experts produced the first set of standards for medical respite care programs. The task force was charged by the Respite Care Providers’ Network Steering Committee with developing standards that 1) align with other health industry standards related to patient care; 2) reflect the needs of the patients being served in the medical respite setting care; 3) promote quality care and improved health; and 4) are achievable for a range of medical respite care programs with varying degrees of resources.

To remain responsive to changes in medical respite care, health care practices, and policy, the RCPN formed a workgroup in 2021 to review and revise the standards. The regular and consistent review ensures the Standards reflect the growth, changes, and newly established evidence to guide best practices in medical respite care. Information and feedback from 30 programs across the United States were used to guide the revision process.

Learn more about the Standards for Medical Respite Care Programs, or contact us for technical assistance on the Standards.