Respite Care Facilities Now Qualify as an Evidence-Based Model

Prioritizing evidence-based models in mental health services becomes even more possible when new programs prove their value.

According to an article from Kaiser Family Foundation News (KFF), peer-run relief centers known as respite facilities have started filling the gaps in mental health services for many communities. The last two decades has seen an increase in the number of these locations offering a short-term, homelike, nurturing environment for people who are experiencing a mental health crisis but don’t need immediate medical attention. These are places were individuals are treated like guests rather than patients or detainees.

These facilities staff trained peers to provide care, and often serve individuals who might otherwise visit overburdened ERs, psychiatric institutions and therapists, or even end up detained by public safety officials. Many of these facilities are non-profits that abide by state guidelines and are eligible for local, state, and federal grant funding. The designation of an evidence-based model has the potential to open up even more funding opportunities. Officials from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), a substantial funding agency for services weighed in as well. From the article:

Paolo del Vecchio, director of the Office of Recovery at the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), said peer-run respites have proven themselves as an “evidence-based model of care,” with positive effects including reduced hospitalizations and increased engagement with community support services.

Further research and reports cited in the article showed that those who sought respite were 70 percent less likely to use inpatient emergency services than non-respite users. While these are important signs to consider in the overall impact of services, research is needed to thoroughly analyze how the programs are working and troubleshoot problems. A cost-benefit analysis of respite programs is currently being conducted by SAMHSA officials with a projected release of this summer.