A family's challenge grew into Time Out Respite Care
Behind the doors of 24246 Harborview Road in Port Charlotte is a haven of relief to families of developmentally challenged children and adults. The name tells the story: For those who need it, Time Out Respite Care offers the services of its trained and licensed caregivers.
With their support, families can be freed up from the responsibility of staying at home around the clock, seven days a week. The story behind why those doors are open is a story of one family's courage to face a difficult challenge and to share their solution with other families.
Sharon Hartzell is the mother of a multi-disabled 33-year-old son. A few months after he was delivered, she was diagnosed with a stage 4 cancer.
In those days, Hartzell explained, "If you had a child with severe disabilities, you were highly encouraged to institutionalize him. My husband and I had no intentions of doing that."
They worked together to coordinate their son's needs and her ongoing medical treatments. "It was a difficult time," she recalled. "Thanks to the support of my family, we were able to do it."
Over the next few years, Hartzell met other families also trying to raise their disabled children.
"What they did not have was a lot of support," she said. "That is when I started the respite program to offer families occasional breaks from the long-term care they had taken on so they to meet their own needs." Hartzell got a $2,000 grant from the state which allowed her to start Time Out Respite Care with a group of volunteers. Time Out Respite Care representatives can step in so that family members who must handle the needs outside the home can do so freely.
The organization has expanded over the years, and now provides more than 14,000 hours of respite care yearly, along with its day training, companion and transportation services. Client needs might include the full range of family duties from shopping to keeping medical and dental appointments, or even socializing or taking vacations.
Often, family members need to take time out for personal tasks or simply a break from their responsibilities to the disabled child or adult. Sometimes, it is necessary for a family member to take time out to recover from an illness. Time Out Respite Care is prepared to keep the household in operation during difficult times, too.
While Time Out Respite Care is available in the homes of families of children and adults with various disabilities, the organization also offers services in any of its licensed caregiver homes or in its spacious respite care facility in Charlotte Harbor. Depending on its needs, a family can choose any of these care locations.
All Time Out Respite Care caregivers are required to complete a comprehensive training program, which includes courses in CPR, behavior management, communication skills and handling medically complex situations.
In addition, even respite workers who possess the ultimate quality Time Out Respite Care respects -- caring -- are also subjected to an extensive background investigation as part of their employment. A helping hand from time to time is helpful to anyone, and Time Out Respite Care is no different. Without official credentials, interested people may volunteer to help the business in other ways.
"Our slogan says it best when I talk about what we do: We provide families with the gift of time," Hartzell said. "Raising my son has helped me learn to look at life with the understanding that although we all have limits as to what we can handle, having support around enables us to do things we never thought we could. I also have learned patience and fulfilled my need to guide others to see that they, too, can keep their families together with a helping hand."
Families not eligible for financial assistance through the organization's funding sources may pay for services on a sliding-scale basis, when they are able.
For more information, contact the office at 941-743-3883.