Respite – recharging the batteries of love

Respite care provides short-term, or temporary, care for seniors. It can be for a few hours, a day, overnight or a couple of weeks – all depending on your circumstances. It provides ‘me’ time for both carer and the cared.

Respite can provide time to relieve stress, restore your energy, and promote balance in your life. It can occur in your own home, at day-care centres, or at residential or nursing facilities that offer overnight stays. 

Whether it’s for just a few hours a week or an extended vacation, seeking respite care can help ease the burden of family caregiving and prevent you from becoming exhausted, isolated, or even burned out.

Who provides respite care?

Respite care can be provided informally by family or friends, or professionally by aged care or disability services.

Types of professional respite services

These include:

  • Care in your own home: A care worker comes to your home or may take you on an outing for a few hours so your carer can have a break or go out.
  • Disability respite services: People with disability spend time in a volunteer's home or at a centre where they are supported to do leisure, recreational and group activities. After-school care, vacation care and respite camps are also available.
  • Centre-based or community access respite care: People with disability or frail older people are cared for in a specialist respite centre.
  • Overnight or weekend respite: Overnight care can be offered in different places, including in a respite house or in the home of a host family.
  • Residential respite care: Sometimes older people who need daily help can have a short stay in an aged care home (for example, while their carer goes on holiday).
  • Emergency and crisis respite: Short-term care is available for people with a family emergency such as an illness.

There are different ways to access respite care. You can ask your family and friends for help. The government also provides support for people to access respite care. You will usually need an assessment first.

For seniors

Respite care is provided by the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. This program offers a range of services for people aged over 65, including respite care. 

Those receiving care may also be eligible for a short stay in an aged care home. Visit myagedcare for more information.

For people with a disability

Respite and in-home care are offered by Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres (CRCCs). You can contact your nearest CRCC on 1800 052 222.

Emergency respite care

If you need respite due to an emergency outside of business hours, you can call 1800 059 059.

How much does it cost?

Some respite services are free and some are not. It depends on your circumstances, the type of care, the length of time, and the provider.

The Australian Government subsidises a range of respite services. If you can afford it, you are likely to be asked to contribute to some of the cost.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is being rolled out in Australia. It is expected that respite care will be included in some of the services offered by the scheme. Carer Gateway contains more information on what is available.

If you are someone who receives residential respite care in an aged care home, you do not have to pay an accommodation charge or bond, or any additional income-tested fees. But you might have to pay a basic daily fee and sometimes a booking fee. The maximum basic daily fee for a respite resident is set at 85% of the single basic Age Pension.

Further information is available on the Department of Human Services website and from healthdirect.

How we can help

If you are an older caregiver who would like to meet like-minded people during your downtime, consider joining a National Seniors branch.

Find your nearest branch here.

You can also read articles on social inclusion and activities via the information hub on our website.

Find out more

Join us today

Share your voice and select the benefits that matter to you with a National Seniors membership.

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