How respite can help both carer and the person they care for

Dec 20, 2021 | RESPITE CARE

Respite care is when someone else temporarily cares for you or your loved one, instead of your normal carer. It gives your regular carer the opportunity to rejuvenate and do some things for themselves, while providing you or your loved one the opportunity to make new connections, try new activities or stay in a new environment.

Why choose respite?

People often choose respite for three different reasons:

  • Taking a break
  • Transitioning out of hospital
  • Trying out an aged care facility

Taking a break

Caring for someone can be a fulfilling job but can often present both physical and emotional challenges. If a carer doesn’t take the time to care for themselves, this can often result in exhaustion and, eventually, burn out. When a carer takes time to meet their own needs, it can often benefit both the carer and the person they are caring for.  It helps improve the quality of care they provide, while helping them stay in the carer role for longer. Respite offers your carer the chance to take a break and also gives you or your loved one the opportunity to enjoy a new experience in a different environment.

Transitioning out of hospital

You may choose respite care if you or your loved one are ready to be discharged from hospital and need some help to get back on your feet. Often called transition care, such care will focus on specific therapies that your normal carer may not be able to provide. This includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy, or services from a dietitian, counsellor or social worker.

Trying out an aged care facility

As your situation and needs change, having a short-term respite care stay at an aged care facility can help you decide if a permanent move is the right choice for you.

Is respite an option if your carer is going on holidays?

Many respite options are available if your carer is going on holidays. This type of care is often referred to as short-term respite care. Respite care can be for a day, overnight or a longer period of time. It can even be as short as a few hours if your carer simply needs some time to tend to personal matters. Depending on your needs and requirements, you can choose from the following respite options to cover your carer’s holiday period:

  • Family or friends for informal respite care
  • In-home flexible respite, where the respite care happens at the normal residence, such as in the home.
  • Centre-based day respite, where you or your loved one visit a day centre, club or residential setting for the day. There will normally be activities or outings, giving the chance to socialise with others in a safe environment.
  • Overnight or weekend respite, which can happen at the home of a host family or a respite cottage.
  • Residential respite careat an aged care facility. You or your loved one will need to be assessed to be eligible for short-term residential respite care.

Emergency respite care is also available for when your carer has an emergency or falls ill or is injured. If you need emergency respite care, you can contact Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737 at any time of the day or night.  


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How much does respite care cost?

The cost of respite care services depend on an individuals situation, the type of care, how long respite care is required for and the provider. If the person requiring respite are 65 years or over, they may be able to access government-subsidised respite care. To discuss eligibilty an assessment from the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT or ACAS in Victoria) is required. Your carer is still able to access their Carer Allowance from Centrelink when they are on respite, for up to 63 days each calendar year. 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.

What is a minimum respite stay?

Different respite services have different minimum respite stay requirements. It is important to take this into consideration when organising respite care. For example:

  • In-home flexible respite care can be for a few hours or overnight.
  • Centre-based day respite generally happens from 10am to 3pm, and may include being transported to and from the centre.
  • Overnight or weekend respite, as its name suggests, is for overnight or the weekend.
  • Residential respite care can be for a few days or longer.

What are the benefits of respite?

With proper planning, respite care will benefit both the carer and the person they care for. Before receiving respite care, ask your carer to talk to respite staff about your needs, likes and dislikes. This will ensure you or your loved one will have a smooth transition. You could also build up to a longer period of respite care by starting with small breaks. Benefits of respite for the carer include:

  • having a break to go on holiday, attend events and activities, or deal with their own matters or hobbies
  • returning refreshed and being able to provide better quality of care
  • avoiding burnout and staying in their carer role for longer
  • feeling less stressed and maintaining a positive feeling towards the experience
  • being able to enjoy social gatherings
  • being able to properly recover from any illness or injury.

Benefits of respite for the person being cared for, include:

  • getting to meet and socialise with new people
  • enjoying a change of scenery from your usual environment
  • engaging in new and different activities
  • experiencing fun outings
  • maintaining a positive relationship with your carer
  • being able to take up a new hobby
  • having the opportunity to trial living in an aged care facility
  • discovering a different quality of care
  • feeling confident to continue living back at home (if you are accessing respite care after an illness or injury).

Respite care is often a positive experience for both the person being cared for and the carer. It helps to ensure the relationship remains happy, healthy and strong. The team at Aged Care Decisions are experts at assisting families with finding short term respite care in their local area. If you would like to discuss the options near you for respite care, or even just find out a little more about how it works, then fill out this form and one of our aged care specialists will get in touch.


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