A Post Institution Society: Adapting Respite for Caregivers of People with SMI


Serious mental illnesses, or SMI, are illnesses that are debilitating and impact the activities of daily life (Whitney et al., 2015). Many of these people with SMI require caregiving which places quite a burden on the caregiver, especially since after deinstitutionalization. Respite care models have been found to be effective in other areas so this research will further address how these existing respite care models can be adapted for future SMI respite care. Background research was conducted on the role of deinstituonalization in shifting the care of people with SMI from institutions to families. As well as the prevalence of mental illness today, the increase in caregiving, what respite care programs have been effective so far, the current barriers to implementing respite care, and the overall importance as to why respite care should be further adapted for specific SMI respite care. An integrative literature review was conducted using online databases and keywords to fill in the gaps of the lack of best practices and curriculum surrounding SMI respite care. The review will look into if existing respite care models can be used to adapt future respite care for caregivers of people with serious mental illnesses. The results found that the similarities among caregiving across illnesses, needs of caregivers, existing respite care models, and best practices on behavioral crisis care show that SMI respite care can be further adapted and point out the lack of clear best practices of SMI respite care. These findings can lead into further development of these SMI respite care best practices, information dissemination on respite resources, longitudinal studies of respite care, and more needs assessments of SMI caregivers. Some limits of the review were finding articles with just SMI statistics and not AMI (any mental illness). Another limitation is some data found being outside of the US and that the results of the theory are subjective. This research will address the need for competency and emphasize the value of service in social work practice by finding literature that can contribute to best practices for SMI respite care to attempt to reduce the burdens of SMI caregivers.



respite care, illness, serious mental illness, caregiver burden, deinstitutionalization