My husband and I take care of my father 24/7. The previous caregiving company let us use the hours to take time off for ourselves for whatever we wanted for a few hours, up to the annual limit of 480 hours. The new caregiving company says the respite hours have to be used just for medical emergencies or if we are out of town for more than one day. This is all in Virginia.
"res·pite [ˈrespət, rēˈspīt] NOUN a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant:"
What your new agency is describing I would consider crisis care, something different altogether. Is this change coming from the agency or from your insurance provider? I would think that as long as it can be paid for respite breaks can be as often and as varied as the caregiver needs/desires.