Give yourself a break you deserve it!

Being a carer can be one of the most demanding things you’ve ever done, and it’s all too easy to
Suffer from burnout with the extra load of physical and emotional stress. Carers and family members sometimes need support to keep going. As a carer you may need a break for a few hours or a few days. Respite care is a chance for you and the person you care for to take a break. This type of break is called respite care. Taking regular breaks can help you provide ongoing care. It also gives the person you support the opportunity to have a break too.

Short-term care to support carers

Short-term care, or respite care, is a special form of support for carers, giving you the opportunity to attend to everyday activities and have a break from your caring role. Short term-care may be given informally by friends, family, neighbours or by formal respite services. Respite care has two purposes. It is made available to support carers – to allow them to take a break from their usual care arrangement and to provide support so that older people can continue living in their own homes.
Respite services, can be provided at home, for a few hours at a time or at facilities such as day care centres and aged care homes. Short-term care may be provided for a few hours, days or longer periods, depending on your needs, the person you care for, and what services are available.

Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres are experienced in finding respite options for people of all ages and conditions. They can be contacted by calling 1800 200 422 or for emergency respite support outside standard business hours on 1800 059 059.

Overview of respite care services

A range of respite care service is also available for older people living at home, including a network of day care centres and respite care services provided in a person’s home. There are commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres in metropolitan, rural and remote areas. These Centres provide advice on the different types of respite care available and can help arrange care for a few hours or even a few days. These centres can also arrange 24-hour emergency respite care.

Respite care in an aged care home

Short-term respite care is also available for older people who need care in an aged care home. It may be used on a planned or emergency basis to help with carer stress, illness, holidays or any other time when your carer is unable to help out. Some older people who have been approved for permanent care in an aged care home may be able to delay moving into the home by using respite care services.

Types of respite care

Day care centres

Half-day, full-day or an extended day (‘long day care’) respite is provided at day care centres around the country.

In-home care

A care-worker can come to your house to provide substitute care or can take the person you care for on an outing while you stay at home to enjoy some peace and quiet.
Overnight respite in a community setting

Overnight care may be provided in a respite house (‘Cottage style’ respite) or in the home of a host family, at a hotel/motel or in a variety of settings.

Respite for working carers

Some respite care is available to support working carers of frail aged people or carers training to re-enter the workforce.

Aged care homes

Short-term care is available in aged care homes for people who need care temporarily, but who intend to return to their own home. Respite care in aged care homes may be used on a planned or emergency basis to help with carer stress, illness, holidays, or non-availability of the carer for any other reason.

Eligibility for respite care

Access to respite care is based on eligibility, priority and need. The amount of care you receive will then depend on your needs and those of the person you care for, as well as availability of respite care services.

How much community respite can a person have?

Each request will be assessed on an individual basis depending on your need and the relative demand for respite services in your area so that respite care is provided as fairly as possible. Some carers are happy with a few hours in home care a week or a day or two at a day centre. Others, such as working carers or carers looking after more than one family member, may require additional longer periods of care.

Arranging respite care in an aged care home

Anyone wishing to organize residential respite care, either for themselves or for the person they’re caring for, should contact an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). The ACAT is usually based at a hospital or community centre and may include a doctor, nurse, social worker, physiotherapist or occupational therapist. Once an appointment is made, a member of the local ACAT will visit the person you care for in their home or in hospital to assess their needs. The team will then talk to you about what services you and the person you are caring for may need and what’s available in your area.

How much residential respite care can a person have?

In most cases, a person can have up to 63 days of respite care in a financial year. However if the ACAT think it is necessary, extension of up to 21 days at a time are possible.

Cost of respite care

There is no charge for the assistance provided by Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres. But if you use a service referred by a Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre, individual services fees may apply.

This information is provided on behalf of the Community partners program undertaken by Sydney Multicultural Community Services. Community Partners Program (CPP) is an initiative of the Australian government Department of Health and Ageing. For more information please call Community Partners program (CPP) officer Maryam on (02) 9557 6157 or (02) 96633922 or via email

The above information is adapted from The Department of Health and Ageing website (where to start respite care services )

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