Respite care is a form of support for carers. It enables them to attend to everyday activities, and to also take a break from their caring role.
Carers are usually family members or friends who provide support to children or adults who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, or who are frail aged. They can be parents, partners, siblings, friends or children of any age.
Caring for someone can be physically and emotionally exhausting, and regular breaks (called 'respite') can help relieve the stress and exhaustion carers may feel at times. Carers are also at a greater risk of developing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
If you are worried about your own mental health as a carer, there is plenty of help and support available. Check out mindhealthconnect, reachout.com, Carer Gateway or call Carers Australia on 1800 242 636. And don’t forget, respite can also provide benefits for the person being cared for such as new experiences and something to look forward to.
Where is respite care taking place?
Respite care can be given informally by friends, family or neighbours, or by formal respite services. It can take place:
- in the person’s home with care ranging from a few hours each week to overnight care (in-home respite)
- in a day care centre which provides full or half-day care
- in a residential aged care home for 2 or 3 weeks.
Who provides respite care?
Respite care is provided by the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.
If you think you may need respite care, you can talk to your doctor, or contact My Aged Care at www.myagedcare.gov.au/contact or 1800 200 422.
The type of respite you take will depend on what suits both you and the person you are caring for, as well as what services are available in your area. Some carers take regular respite breaks while others only take a respite break once a year.
Most services have waiting lists so try and plan ahead. And it is also important not to wait until you are feeling stressed before you arrange for respite. You might also worry about the person you care for if you take a respite break, or worry about the cost of respite services. These concerns should be discussed with your aged care assessment team.
What does respite care cost?
The cost of respite care varies. Some services are free while others may charge a small fee or charge according to your income. Some private services may be expensive. To find out more about the cost associated with respite care, contact My Aged Care at www.myagedcare.gov.au/contact or at 1800 200 422 .
Sometimes you might need urgent respite care. This could be due to the death of a relative, a sudden illness or an accident where you are admitted to hospital. Emergency respite care can be arranged in most areas through the Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre on 1800 052 222 during standards business hours, or 1800 059 059 outside of standard business hours.
Are you a carer or helping someone out?
Carers are everyday people who provide unpaid and ongoing care and support to someone they know who has a disability, mental illness, drug or alcohol dependency, chronic condition, terminal illness or who is frail.
Support for carers
Last reviewed: August 2016