5 Overlooked Benefits of Respite Care


Article by 

Andrea Alvarez

What is respite care and its benefits?

Respite care in Australia is temporary, short-term care that gives carers the opportunity to take a break from caring for elderly, sick or disabled family members. You can organise family or friends, volunteers or paid carers to care for your loved one for a few hours a week, overnight or for a vacation period. The time away from your day-to-day caregiving routine can help to recharge your batteries and refresh yourself, while achieving your own personal goals outside of your carer role.

Australian respite care not only helps you, but also benefits the person needing care. It can provide variety in their routine, give them the opportunity to socialise outside of their usual support network and provide additional stimulation. Respite care can also be used to try out care in an aged care facility without committing to permanent care.

If you and your carer are facing challenges in the day-to-day routine, some time away can give you a fresh outlook and help both of you find solutions you might not otherwise have thought of. The right type of respite care can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved.

At Aged Care Decisions, we take the time to learn about you and your loved one’s unique needs and match those to the best respite care options in your area. Speak to the Aged Care Decisions team to see how our free placement service can help you find the right care for your loved one, while giving you a much-needed break.

Types of respite care in Australia

In Australia, respite care is offered in a variety of ways. You can ask friends and family to help out wherever they can, or you can use a professional service that specialises in respite care. Respite services offer both in-home and out-of-home programs, so you can choose the option that best suits your situation.

You can choose to enlist a volunteer or paid carer to offer in-home support on an as-needed or regular basis. Carers can provide care for a few hours or even stay overnight. The benefit of in-home respite care is that loved ones remain in their familiar home environment and you are assured that they are safe and comfortable.

When looking at short-term care, there are three main care types to choose between:

  • Residential respite care
  • Community respite care
  • Emergency respite care

Residential respite care

Aged care homes offer short-term stays to loved ones to give them the opportunity to embrace new social activities and form new relationships, while also giving carers time away from their caregiving duties. This is referred to as residential respite care. Respite care in a residential aged care home is usually for a minimum of 2 weeks.

It is also important to note that short-term care recipients will get the same service as permanent residents, including:

  • A room
  • Meals
  • Personal care
  • Laundry
  • Access to social activities

This is an ideal option for those needing regular short-term care because you can book in on a regular basis. You can book up to 63 days of subsidised respite care (including emergency care) over the course of each financial year.

Community respite care

Community care has a range of options for occasional care, including day care, club, residential and in-home settings. You can access day, overnight and weekend care in the following options:

  • Centre-based respite at a day centre, club or residential home between 9 and 3 during the day
  • Cottage respite where your loved one stays overnight or for a weekend in the community or with a host family
  • Flexible respite in your home or the community for a day or night

Emergency respite care

If something unexpected happens, you may not be able to care for your loved one. Emergency respite care ensures your family member continues to receive the care they need in times when you can’t provide it.

Our Aged Care Decisions team can help you determine which type of respite care is right for you and help you through the process. Once you provide your details, we will be in touch to offer our free service.

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Tips for overcoming common obstacles to respite care in Australia

Both receiving and giving long-term care can sometimes be challenging. When you care for someone long-term, it can be hard to let someone help. It can seem easier to do it yourself rather than involving someone else. As a care recipient, it can feel like you are giving control of your life to someone else. It’s important to remember that support is available and it can improve both of your lives. These tips aim to help carers and care recipients overcome some common obstacles.

  1. Establish relationships

It’s rarely healthy to spend every minute of the day with another person, regardless of the quality of your relationship. Creating a wider support network brings additional relationships that provide essential stimulation through social interaction – for both of you. Taking a short break can be a positive way to maintain a strong relationship.

  1. Stay connected

Respite care offers opportunities to meet new people and stay connected. By remaining open to connecting with others, your respite stay can be a welcome break from the daily routine and bring new connections for now and in the future.

  1. Testing the Waters

If you’re considering future long-term aged care options, a respite care stay in an aged care home allows you to experience this type of care without any long-term commitment. If you decide it’s the right fit for you, you can transition into permanent care at an aged care home when you’re ready.

  1. Embrace opportunities

Respite providers offer a wide range of social activities and opportunities for care recipients. Embracing these and participating can be the difference between a positive and negative stay at your chosen respite care service. Not only can they provide enjoyment and stimulation, but also the chance to build new friendships.

  1. Take breaks

No one works in an office job 24/7. Everyone needs breaks, including carers. Try not to feel guilty about needing time for yourself because ignoring your needs can leave you burnt out and unable to provide optimal care. Allowing yourself time to maintain your own health and wellbeing will ensure you can provide the best care possible to your loved one.

Top tips for finding the best respite care in Australia

To find the best respite care for your loved one, you need to do some research and planning. The first step is to identify the needs of your loved one, as well as your own needs. Next, you need to decide on which type of care would be best suited and how often you need it.

It can be beneficial to record the daily tasks that you do so you can see where you need support and easily pass details on to the respite carer. Here are some questions to help you make a plan:

  • How much time do I need outside of my caregiver role?
  • Do I need regular or occasional support?
  • What type of environment does my loved one prefer?
  • Would they prefer to stay at home or go out into the community?
  • Would my loved one benefit more from one-on-one interaction or group social interaction?
  • What is my budget and what type of subsidy are we eligible for?

What is the easiest way to find respite care in Australia?

You can research respite providers in your local area or you can use a placement service to do the research for you. If doing your own research, you should interview each potential service over the phone and in person. Ask questions to ensure you fully understand the level of care and the type of environment on offer.

An alternative to finding care yourself is using the help of a placement service. Placement services make finding the right respite care in Australia easy and straightforward.

Using an aged care placement service to find respite care in Australia

An aged care placement service partners with respite services around the country. They are well-informed about the options and vacancies available and understand the importance of meeting each person’s unique needs.

Simply share your situation with the placement service and they will give you a list of available options and connect you with suitable aged care providers. There are a number of placement services available in Australia, of which Aged Care Decisions is the largest.

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  1. I’m glad you said that you get breaks when you hire respite care services. My cousin was on the phone with me last night, and she talked about how she has been thinking about hiring a professional to help take care of her disabled daughter. I’ll pass this information along to her so she can know the advantages of hiring respite care services.

    1. Hi Daisy,

      Thanks for your comment – we do hope your cousin gets the help they need. Let us know how they get on.

      Best wishes,


  2. When respite care is taken does the Provider meet the cost if AgeCare funds in credit are adequate to meet the cost?

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