What is respite care?

Respite care is having someone else take care of a care recipient, while their regular carer takes a break and has time off to relax and recuperate.

The goal of respite care is to give caregivers a rest from their caring duties, so that they don’t experience carer burnout. 

Respite care can be pre-planned, or can be organised in an emergency, such as when your primary carer has to go to hospital, has to attend an emergency, or passes away.

What is carer burnout?

Care burnout refers to the experience of feeling stressed, overwhelmed and feeling completely exhausted as a result of caring for someone and not having adequate breaks or rest from caregiving duties.

Carers who experience carer burnout may end up unwell themselves, or may quit their carer responsibilities entirely. The is often a large emotional toll when caring for someone and this can lead to physical and emotional illness if not managed well.

Respite care is an excellent way to have a physical and emotional break and to maintain the carer’s overall wellness

What are the different types of respite care?

Respite care can be either short-term, or long-term. You have three main options for respite care. They are:

1. In home respite care

2. Respite care in the community (CHSP)

There are three different options of community-based respite care: centre-based respite care, cottage respite, or flexible respite. 

  • Centre-based respite care is provided during the day only, at specific centres in the community. Centre-based respite is available during the day. It provides you with the opportunity to talk and interact with other people, and usually takes place at a day centre, club or residential setting. Day respite often runs from 10am to 3pm and may include transport to and from the centre. 
  • Cottage respite care is care provided overnight or over a weekend, and takes place in the community, or in the home of a host family
  • Flexible respite is usually when a paid carer comes to your home to take care of you 

3. Respite care in an Aged Care Home

Respite care in an Aged Care Home is available for a few days through to a few weeks at a time. This is the most suitable option if you require more advanced or full time care.

Receiving respite care in an aged care home means that you will receive the same support and experience as full time aged care home residents. You will be given your own room, receive meals, laundry services, and social supports, as well as any other personal care needs/services. 

How do I access respite care?

Respite care can be accessed via government subsidies or paid for privately.

When you are assessed by My Aged Care, the assessor will determine whether you are eligible for respite care – and either low level or high level respite care. If you are found eligible, you can access government funded respite care in an Aged Care Home, in your community via CHSP, or in your home via your Home Care Package

If you are not assessed as eligible for subsidised respite care, you may pay for it privately.

How long can someone stay in respite care?

Residential respite care provides up to 63 days of subsidised care per financial year, accommodating both planned and emergency situations. If needed, this period can be extended by 21 days at a time, with further approval from your aged care assessor.

Here are two methods to arrange an extension for residential respite care:

  1. If you are currently in respite and wish to extend your stay, you should discuss this with the aged care home before your current period ends. The facility can facilitate the extension on your behalf.
  2. If you are not in respite but have already accessed 63 days and need to schedule another stay, you can contact either:
    • The assessment organisation that conducted your initial assessment, or
    • My Aged Care at 1800 200 422.

Does a Home Care Package pay for respite care?

Yes, a Home Care Package can pay for respite care. If your primary carer needs a break from caring, is planning a holiday, or is going to be unavailable to care for you, your Home Care Package funds can pay for respite care.