How can I get subsidised respite care?

Respite care is a form of short-term care that can be very helpful to ensure you or your loved one are looked after when the usual care cannot be arranged or when you need a break from providing care. Find out how to get subsidised respite care in Australia.

subsidised respite care

How does residential respite work?

Respite care is a solution for elderly Australians who are in need of short-term care.

It may be because their regular carer cannot be there for a short period of time or because they are recovering after a hospital stay, or for any number of other reasons.

Respite care is covered by the Australian government if the elderly citizen is deemed eligible.

It can be a once-off or a recurring service.

There are many different types of respite care, but the main four are:

  • Home visits
  • Community respite care
  • Residential Respite Care
  • Emergency Respite Care

What is the benefit of respite care?

Respite care can be useful for a number of reasons. One of the best benefits of respite care is to give carers the chance to have a break.

Caring full-time for a loved one can be a strenuous and stressful task, and it is best that carers have time off regularly so they can focus on self-care.

How do I check my eligibility for subsidised respite care?

To check if you or your loved one is eligible for respite care, use the eligibility checker on the My Aged Care website.

In general, Australians over 65 (50 and over for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people) and who need assistance with the everyday living are likely to qualify for respite care.

If your loved one doesn’t fit the standard eligibility but feels that they still need respite for whatever reason, contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to discuss your situation.

How do you access Subsidised Respite Care in Australia?

Many carers will ask other family or friends to take over their tasks for a short period of time in order to get some respite.

As a carer, though, you might be eligible for government support for professional Respite Care services.

To determine whether you are eligible, head to the My Aged Care website and fill out the eligibility survey.

Otherwise, get in touch with My Aged Care through their online contact tool or call them on 1800 200 422.

If you need respite care in an emergency, call Carer Gateway. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 422 737.

Try to have an emergency care plan in place in case such an emergency should occur. This will make it easier and smoother to set up the respite care you ended. To book respite care in advance, Aged Care Decisions has a service finder that can help you find respite care near you.

What types of respite care are available?

As mentioned above, there are four main types of aged care available to elderly Australians:

  • Home visits

With home visits (also known as flexible respite), a healthcare professional will visit the home for a few hours or longer if required to check in on you or your loved one. In some cases, it can be organised for a respite worker to stay overnight.

  • Community respite care

Community respite care is when you or your loved one visit a specialised respite centre in the community.

Under this category, you will also find centre-based care. Centre-based care is usually a day centre of some kind where elderly folks can congregate and enjoy activities while carers have some time off.

  • Residential Respite Care

With residential respite care, the elderly person stays for a short time in an aged care home or facility.

When you are placed in residential respite care, you receive all the same support and services that full-time residents receive. A few visits to residential respite care can be a smart way to introduce your loved one to residential aged care. This can help them prepare to transition to a facility full-time.

  • Emergency Respite Care

Emergency respite care is arranged in the event of an unseen crisis. It helps to have contact with some providers before you need it, so you know who to contact to arrange care at short notice.

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How much residential respite can I access?

There is a limit to how much respite care any individual can access in one year. The maximum residential respite available per financial year is 63 days.

Can I extend the length of my stay at the aged care home?

There is the possibility of extending your stay by up to 21 days at a time. To apply for an extension, an application needs to be sent to the ACAT. This extension may be granted based on specific circumstances, for example:

  • Carer stress or absence
  • Specific needs
  • Abilities
  • Personal preferences.

Your Aged Care assessor will also analyse if permanent residential care is better for you or your loved ones.

What will respite care cost me?

To access respite care, there is no requirement to complete a means test.

Rather, the cost of your service is dependent on the type of care you receive. The different types of respite care fees are:

  • Residential respite

The respite cost per day for a stay in an aged care facility is not the same as the amount paid by full-time residents.

The fees will be discussed and agreed upon with your aged care provider before the stay in the aged care residence.

The fees include:

  • Basic daily fee

Everyone is expected to pay a basic daily fee. The Australian government sets the fee at 85% of the single basic age pension and assesses it twice a year in March and September.

  • Booking fee

Some residential aged care facilities will require a booking fee for residential respite care.

The fee is capped at 25% of the entire fee for the duration of the stay or the cost of a full week, whichever amount is the lowest.

The booking fee is deducted from your daily fees once you or your loved one have entered care. It is always clever to check with your provider whether or not they charge a booking fee so that you are aware beforehand.

If you cancel your respite stay, the provider is required to refund your booking fee in full as long as you cancel more than seven days before the commencement of the stay. If you cancel in less time, you may have to pay a portion of the booking fee.

  • Additional service fees

Additional hotel-style services can be enjoyed at many aged care facilities. Of course, you will be expected to pay for such additional luxuries.

Additional services might include:

  • Foxtel in your room
  • Hairdressing
  • Preferred toiletries
  • Wine with dinner
  • A specialise menu

Some nursing homes will have a selection to choose from, but with others, you may have to negotiate for additional services.

  • Extra service fees

Extra services refer to higher-end, hotel-style services that can be provided for a set fee.

Such services might include:

  • an a la carte menu
  • Wi-Fi
  • individual outings
  • higher quality cutlery, and linen

The government will not subsidise extra service fees.

What if I can’t afford respite care?

If you or your loved one are in need of respite care services but believe you can’t pay then you can apply for financial hardship assistance. If you qualify for financial hardship assistance, the government will pay part or all of your respite care fees.

Remember, though, that the government won’t cover extra fees on luxuries in an aged care facility.

Choosing an aged care facility

Looking for respite care in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane or another part of Australia? Aged Care Decisions can help. Contact us on 1300 096 200 or enter your details via our website.

Get a customised list of respite care options:

  • 100% Free for Families
  • Compare hundreds of respite options across Australia
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Aged Care Decisions is Australia’s largest aged care placement service. We take the stress and running around out of finding aged care vacancies. We work with you to find aged care options that best match your loved one’s care needs, budget, location and preferences.

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