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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A special thanks to our contributors



Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.