A guide to preparing for respite care

aged care support services

Respite offers many benefits to both you and your carer and can be a rewarding and rejuvenating experience. Preparation is key to making the most out of your respite and can help you avoid common problems. This guide will help you and your carer prepare for respite care, whether at home or in a residential aged care facility.


When is the best time to try respite care?

Everyone’s aged care journey is unique to their specific care needs and their own preferences, which is why the best time to book respite care differs for everyone. The most important part of your current care arrangement is that you receive quality care and your carer does not become burnt out. Read more about respite care here.

Carers should discuss the option of respite before they reach this stage so that the right care can be arranged with minimal stress. Planning for respite care early ensures you and your carer have plenty of time to discuss the available options and look for a suitable carer or residential aged care home which provides respite care. For people with dementia, it is often a good idea to organise respite care early on in their disease because they will be better able to prepare for respite.

Aged Care Decisions offers a free respite care comparison service that provides a list of suitable services in your local area. Our team can answer your respite care questions and provide you with information to share with your carer or loved one. Call us on 1300 775 870 or complete our online form – one of our aged care specialists will then get back to you.


How do I ensure my respite care stay is a positive experience?

Once you’ve decided to try respite care, the next step is to do your research. You need to first understand yours or your loved one’s care needs and decide on the type of respite care you want to book: in-home or residential respite care.


In-home respite care

If you prefer to stay at home during your respite, your research should ideally include:

  • comparing available services in your local area
  • speaking to other carers about their experiences with respite services
  • asking for recommendations from other carers and their loved ones
  • interviews with potential services

Some in-home respite services have flexible staff arrangement, which means your carer may change frequently. If it is important to you that you have the same carer throughout your respite, be sure to ask during your interviews and choose a service that offers this.


Residential respite care

Residential respite care can provide many benefits to both you and your carer. In addition to the above, your research should also include tours of preferred facilities. During your tour, you can ask about planned activities for respite care and how staff ensure they meet each short-term resident’s specific care needs. Due to the lockdowns throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many providers have commenced offering virtual tours. If you are unable to physically conduct a tour, ask them if this service is available.


What do I need to organise before I enter respite care?

Before entering respite care, you should organise a few things to ensure you enjoy your stay. This includes:

  • Understanding your care needs
  • Writing a list of medications, essentials and personal items
  • Preparing yourself for short-term respite or a transition into permanent care
  • Booking dates and creating a plan for unexpected changes


Understanding your respite care needs

Both you and your carer will have a natural routine and rhythm to your care. Before entering respite, you should think about what is involved in this and write a detailed list of your specific care needs, as well as the things that are important to you. Not only will this list help you in interviews and at tours to determine whether a respite care service meets your needs, but it will also help you communicate your needs to your respite carers during your stay.


Writing a list of essentials

You should also write a list of all the medications and essentials you will need to pack for your stay to ensure you have everything you need while you’re away from home. You may also want to bring some personal items that add a touch of home to your residential respite care stay.


Preparing for the future

People book a respite stay for many reasons – some need a short break from regular arrangements and others want to try residential aged care before moving into a nursing home permanently. It’s important to understand whether your planned respite stay is short-term and temporary or whether you envision it becoming a permanent care arrangement because each has different objectives.

If your residential respite stay is a short-term break, you can consider what types of activities you are interested in and write down what you would like to get out of the experience. Be sure to ask the facility staff what social activities and opportunities will be on offer during your respite.

If you plan to transition into permanent care, you should start preparing the additional forms and assessments required for permanent care. You could also write a list of your expectations and check-in with these during your stay. This will allow you to determine if permanent residential aged care is right for you. Most importantly, you need to have this discussion upfront with the aged care facility to ensure they have availability for you to stay on permanently.


Booking dates and planning for change

For short-term respite care, it’s important to book start and end dates with the facility and discuss a plan in case these dates need to change. Your carer may be away during your respite, so it’s a good idea to arrange another close contact to help in the case of unexpected circumstances.


Looking for aged care?

Get a customised list of aged care options

What forms and assessments do I need to have completed before entering respite?

Once you have decided on respite care, you will need to complete an:

  • ACAT assessment that determines which government-subsidised aged care services you are eligible for
  • application form for your chosen residential respite care facility
  • for in-home respite care, you will need to sign the relevant contracts with your chosen service(s).

You can apply to as many residential respite care homes as you like. Once you are offered a place, you simply need to notify the other facilities that you no longer need a placement.

Your ACAT assessment will evaluate your specific care needs and match them to the services available. If eligible, you can access up to 63 days of subsidised respite care per year.

The Aged Care Decisions team can help you prepare for respite care. We are knowledgeable about the forms and assessment involved and can help you find the forms you need. Contact us through our simple online form or give us a call on 1300 775 870.


What happens if I don’t organise an ACAT before booking respite care?

An ACAT assessment determines whether you are eligible for government-subsidised aged care. Without it, you will be classed as a privately funded aged care resident, meaning you will need to pay private fees until you get the relevant approvals for respite care.

Private fees are approximately $200 to $300 per day. The exact cost is dependent on the facility you choose for your respite care. If you have not yet completed an ACAT assessment, you can choose to:

  1. book in your respite immediately and pay private fees until you get approval
  2. wait until you have your ACAT approval before booking your respite.

Remember that there is no guarantee that you will be approved for subsidised respite care. Check your eligibility here or read more about the ACAT assessment process.


Is there a difference in the forms I need to complete for permanent care versus respite care?

For respite care, you will need to pay a basic daily fee and potentially a booking fee, which is simply your daily fee in advance. You do not need to pay any means-tested care fees nor any accommodation costs because your residential care is short-term. As a result, you will NOT need to complete Centrelink’s Income and Assets form for respite care.

However, if you are planning to transition from residential respite care to permanent care, you may then be required to pay these additional costs. This means you will need to complete an income and assets assessment through Centrelink before entering into permanent residential aged care. The assessment is designed to evaluate your financial situation and determine how much you can afford to contribute to means-tested aged care fees. If you are planning respite with a view to permanent, you should also look into completing the Income and Assets form.


How can I access support when preparing for respite care

At Aged Care Decisions, we know how overwhelming the respite care process can be. That’s why we offer support through our completely free service. Our specialist team possesses a wealth of information about respite care facilities, availability and the assessment and application process. We are here to help; simply get in touch through our online form or call us on 1300 775 870.


Looking for expert advice?

Talk to one of our aged care specialists

Spread the love
Aged Care Decisions


Let us help you find Aged Care Services

We will assist in any way we can and are always ready to take your call.


Looking for aged care providers near you?

We work with families to help find the best Aged Care in Australia for their loved ones. We provide a personalised service with no fee to the family.

Find aged care facilities with ease

You can compare and choose from aged care facilities or home care providers, to make the best decision for your family.

Click to get your FREE copy

Australian Carers Guide

Blog Categories

Looking for aged care?

Get a customised list of aged care options

How do we work?

Making the right decision easier