REST celebrates third anniversary

  • Don Pieper, left, provides a break for Jan Walters, allowing her to attend an exercise class, meet her family for lunch, or simply enjoy some free time.Cindy Novak

    Don Pieper, left, provides a break for Jan Walters, allowing her to attend an exercise class, meet her family for lunch, or simply enjoy some free time.Cindy Novak

Cindy Novak
Updated 2/26/2016 7:24 AM

Since REST (Respite Education & Support Tools) launched its first national Train-the-Trainer course three years ago, the program has grown from 30 attendees to 231 REST Trainers and 2,609 REST Companions™ (paid or volunteer respite workers) in 19 states and Canada.

"As we commemorate our third anniversary, we want to thank our trainers, Companions and supporters who have helped us reach this milestone," said REST Program Director Lois Sheaffer, who has more than 30 years' experience in respite work, and who has played an instrumental role in the development of the REST program. "Our collective efforts -- and passion to make a difference -- have resulted in more caregivers receiving breaks from their caregiving duties."


"We measure REST's achievements beyond numbers and statistics, though," Sheaffer added. "Hearing from caregivers reminds us of why we serve."

Jan Walters, who is a caregiver to her husband, Ray, who has vascular dementia, recently shared how respite has benefited her:

"Through respite, I can regroup, come back and focus on what I need to do," she said. "It has been a liberating, freeing experience. I appreciate it very much. I am so grateful."

Jan receives respite -- or short breaks -- once a week from Don Pieper, who underwent the REST Companion training course last year. "I've been through a lot of training programs, but this was one of the best," said Don, who has been volunteering for a variety of causes since his retirement 20 years ago. "Our trainer made the course interesting. I've enjoyed getting involved."

To become a REST Trainer, individuals must first complete a two-day REST Train-the-Trainer course, which provides an overview of skills needed to provide respite in a variety of settings. The course has an experiential learning format, allowing participants to gain a clearer understanding of the needs of both caregivers and care receivers.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service

Among the topics covered: confidentiality, communication skills, general care techniques, planning and adapting activities, and establishing successful relationships with caregivers and care receivers.

Those who complete the REST Train-the-Trainer course can customize the content by including supplemental material, such as an organization's policies and procedures, or individualized instruction relevant to the families that will be served.

To ensure that caregivers feel confident stepping away, the REST training program uses a standardized curriculum that is aligned with the National Respite Guidelines, developed by the ARCH (Access to Respite Care and Help) National Resource Center.

In addition to REST Train-the-Trainer and REST Companion courses, REST also has developed a four-hour REST Essentials™ training program that prepares individuals to provide respite in supervised group settings, such as an adult day care, drop-off ministry or camp program.

Today, more than 90 million individuals in the U.S. provide care for a family member or other loved one, and respite care -- or short-term temporary relief -- is one of the most frequently requested support services for caregivers, according to Caregiver Action Network.

For information on REST, contact Lisa Esposito, REST program coordinator, at 630-397-5656 or, or visit