What is respite care?

Respite care (also known as ‘short-term care’) is a form of support for you and your carer. It gives your carer the opportunity to attend to everyday activities or go on holidays while ensuring your needs are supported. Respite care may be given informally by family, friends or neighbours, or by formal respite services. Things like respite care may mean your carer can continue in caring for you longer.

Respite care may be for a few hours or days or for longer periods, depending on your needs, the needs of the person who cares for you, your eligibility and what services are available in your area. It can happen in your home or at facilities such as an overnight respite cottage, a day centre or residential care facility.

How will it help me?

You and your carer may appreciate the fact that both of you are being supported and receiving the help you need. It may also help you feel like you both have a wider social life, and enjoy meeting and talking to other people.

Will it help my carer go to work?

Respite care is available to support you and your working carer or assist your carer if they want to continue working or re-enter the workforce.

Commonwealth Home Support Programme

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme can assist you by providing Government-subsidised access to a variety of respite services. Some of these planned respite service types are listed below:

In-home respite
This type of respite usually involves a person working as a carer who comes to your home so that your carer can go out for a few hours. Or, they may take you for an outing for a few hours while your carer has a break.

In-home respite can happen during the day or overnight.

Centre-based day respite
This type of respite care usually takes place at a day centre or club. It offers personalised structured activities, group activities or small group outings that give you a chance to talk to other people. Day respite often runs from 10am to 3pm and may include transporting you to and from the centre-based day respite centre.

Overnight or weekend respite
Overnight care may be provided in a variety of settings. These include a respite house (‘cottage-style’ respite) or the home of a host family.

Community access respite
Community access respite provides activities to give you a social experience to encourage a sense of independence and social interaction and provides your carer with a break.

This may be provided to you individually or as part of a group setting. It may be provided during the day or in an overnight setting.

Residential respite care (short stays in aged care homes)

If you need help every day, you may need to have a short stay in an aged care home. This is called ‘residential respite care’, and can happen on a planned or emergency basis.

Your carer might use this type of respite care to attend a wedding or other event, or go on a holiday. Your carer may need some help if they are unwell or unable to provide care for any other reason. Once your carer is back, you will also return home.

Organising this type of respite care is a bit different to organising other types of respite services – read more about short stays in aged care homes.