Respite Care

What is Respite Care?

Respite care is short-term care available to a person and their care giver. Respite care provides help for carers so that they can take part in everyday activities or go on holidays while ensuring that the person receiving care is looked after.

Respite care can be provided by family, friends or neighbours or by formal respite services run by Government-funded or private organisations.

Respite care may range from a few hours each week to overnight stays, weekends and longer breaks or a mix of in-home and community services, depending on the needs of the person being care for and the carer, their eligibility and services available in the area.

Types of respite care

Respite care can be offered at home or in facilities such as an overnight respite cottage or day centre or club. Access to these services is arranged through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP).

Respite care can also be provided at a nursing home (aged care home). This is known as residential respite care and is usually booked in advance, though it can be organised in an emergency. A carer may use this type of respite care if they go on a break, are unwell or unable to provide care for whatever reason.

Respite care in a nursing home is available for up to 63 days every year. This can be extended in lots of 21 days if further assessment finds it is necessary.

You will need to undergo an ACAT assessment with an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT, or ACAS in Victoria) to receive residential respite care to decide what level of care you will need. You will also need to set up a client record with my aged care.

Respite care is also available as transition care, which is short-term care given if you have been in hospital and need more extra support as you recuperate. This can include services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, podiatry and counselling.

Costs of respite care

The costs for respite care vary depending on your circumstances and how much help you need. The Commonwealth subsidises a range of aged care services for Australians, but if you have the funds, you will be expected to pay for some of the costs of your care.

If you are given residential respite care through a nursing home, you won’t have to pay an accommodation fee or any additional income-tested fees.

However, you will be asked to pay a basic daily fee and sometimes a booking fee, which is a prepayment of your respite care fees. This fee cannot amount to more than a full week’s basic daily fee or 25 per cent of the fee for your stay, depending on which figure is the lowest. 

The maximum basic daily fee for a respite resident is fixed at 85 per cent of the single basic Age Pension. The final rate you pay will be agreed on between you and the organisation that provides your respite care before you receive the services.

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