Understanding Respite Care


What is respite care?

Respite care (also known as ‘short-term care’) is a form of support for you and your carer. It gives a carer the opportunity to attend to everyday activities or go on holidays while ensuring your needs are supported.

Respite care may be given informally by family, friends or neighbours, or by formal respite services.

Things like respite care may mean your carer can continue in caring for you longer.

Respite accommodation

Respite accommodation is one particular type of respite care. Respite accommodation typically occurs in a residential aged care facility (also known as a ‘nursing home’).

A carer might use this type of respite care to attend a wedding or other event, or go on a holiday. Your carer may need some help if they are unwell or unable to provide care for any other reason. Once your carer is back, you will also return home.

Respite accommodation can occur on a planned basis (in advance) or on an emergency basis.

Respite accommodation is a really useful way of testing out the suitability of one, or a number, of residential aged care facilities. It can also be used to introduce the concept of moving a loved one into aged care to that person.

Other types of carer support

A number of other types of carer support are available in Australia, often subsidised by the Australian Government:

In-home respite
This type of respite usually involves a person working as a carer who comes to your home so that your carer can go out for a few hours. Or, they may take you for an outing for a few hours while your carer has a break. In-home respite can happen during the day or overnight.

Centre-based day respite
This type of respite care usually takes place at a day centre or club. It offers personalised structured activities, group activities or small group outings that give you a chance to talk to other people. Day respite often runs from 10am to 3pm and may include transporting you to and from the centre-based day respite centre.

Overnight or weekend respite
Overnight care may be provided in a variety of settings. These include a respite house (‘cottage-style’ respite) or the home of a host family.

Community access respite
Community access respite provides activities to give you a social experience to encourage a sense of independence and social interaction and provides your carer with a break.

This may be provided to you individually or as part of a group setting. It may be provided during the day or in an overnight setting.

Consumer Directed Respite Care
There are also a limited number of Consumer Directed Respite Care (CDRC) packages under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. CDRC lets you take a break or can give your carer a break from caring while also giving you a greater say and more control over the design and delivery of respite services provided to you. This means you can make choices about:

– the types of respite services you access

– how they are delivered

– when they are delivered

– who will deliver them to you.

To enquire about CDRC, contact your local Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre on 1800 052 222.

Who provides respite accommodation?

Most residential aged care facilities provide respite accommodation. The availability of respite accommodation differs, and depends on each facility’s own rules and vacancies.

Because of this variability, Respite Bookings provides a valuable resource to families and carers to find respite accommodation in their local area on dates suitable to them.

How much will it cost?

If you are eligible for Australian Government subsidies (see ‘What do I need to get started’ below), most respite accommodation will be available for you at little, if any, cost.

You may be asked for additional payments if you wish to access Extra Services. Extra Services will typically involve a higher than usual standard of accommodation, food or services.

What do I need to get started?

The starting point for accessing subsidised respite accommodation is by making sure your respite care recipient has obtained an Aged Care Client Record (ACCR).

An Aged Care Client Record is obtained from an authorised Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), or Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) in Victoria.

A member of your local ACAT, usually a nurse, social worker or other health care professional will make a time to come to your home.

To contact your local ACAT to start the process, you can use the Australian Government’s My Aged Care website – click here. Alternatively, you can call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

Useful links

Australian Government – My Aged Care – myagedcare.gov.au

Carers Australia – carersaustralia.com.au

Alzheimer’s Australia – Using Respite Care



Last Updated: 12 August 2015