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What is Respite Care?

5 February, 2024

An elderly woman receiving engaging care with a puzzle activity with a care worker, exemplifying the supportive companionship aspect of respite care.

Respite care - help for you and your carer

Providing care for your loved ones is essential for their health and welfare. It can also be a profound expression of your love and commitment.

However, being a primary carer, can also be extremely difficult. Undertaking a caring role can present both physical and emotional challenges and if you're not careful, it can lead to injury, stress and burnout.

Given the essential and often undervalued role that carers play in our society we decided to make carers the focus of this blog.

In particular, we wanted to explore the ways in which carers can use respite services to recharge, recover and look after themselves effectively.

As a result, this blog post aims to explore respite care in Australia and will look at respite care provided through both My Aged Care, and the NDIS.

Support for carers is also available through the carer gateway.

A caregiver experiencing a moment of stress, highlighting the need for the support that respite care services provide.

When should you consider respite care?

It is important to think about respite care if you start to notice the signs of burnout, excessive stress, or a sense of overwhelming responsibility.

Additionally, respite care should be considered if you notice a decline in your own health or when your loved one's care needs go beyond your capacity to provide for them.

Recognising the importance of self-care and understanding that periodic breaks help sustain effective caregiving, are key factors in deciding when you should explore respite care options.

Respite services for carers of older people

For those caring for loved ones 65 and older, respite care can be accessed through My Aged Care. To access respite care services, your loved one will need to undergo anaged care assessment by the My Aged Care team, to determine their eligibility for a home care package.

Home care packages are available for those with physical incapacity as well as those with dementia and other cognitive issues.

My Aged Care provides a range of respite care options tailored to meet the aged care needs of older individuals so that their carers can take a break

What types of respite care are available?

Emergency respite care

Emergency respite care through My Aged Care is a critical service designed to address urgent and unforeseen situations where the primary caregiver is temporarily unable to provide aged care.

Accessing emergency respite care through My Aged Care involves contacting the My Aged Care contact centre, which is available around the clock to assess the urgency of the situation and coordinate appropriate support promptly.

Emergency respite care may involve in-home support, short-term stays in residential facilities, or other suitable arrangements.

The focus of emergency respite care is on providing timely and responsive aged care during crisis situations, offering relief to both the caregiver and the care recipient.

Respite care for a few hours or a full day

Short term respite allows caregivers to take short breaks or a full day off while their loved one can access respite services.

Centre-based respite is usually available during work hours and offers a valuable solution for caregivers seeking temporary relief. Centre-based day respite allows your loved one to talk and interact with other people at a day centre, club, cottage or aged care facility.

It is also possible for a paid carer to come to your home to provide care so you can take a short break.

Overnight or weekend respite services

Depending upon the care needs of your loved one, longer term residential respite care may also be available. These allows carers to have respite breaks that last for a few days or a few weeks and can include a stay in an assisted living cottage or aged care facility.

How much residential respite can I access?

Once your loved one has done their aged care assessment, they will be assigned a respite classification, which dictates the level of respite subsidy your provider will receive, ensuring that the care your loved on receive aligns with their specific aged care needs.

If your loved one believes they may need an aged care assessment, you should call my aged care.

As for residential respite care, your loved one can access up to 63 days of subsidised respite within a financial year, encompassing both the planned respite services and emergency residential respite care.

Should the need arise, extensions of 21 days at a time can be accessed with approval from the aged care assessor so that your loved one can continue to receive care.

How much does respite care cost?

If your loved one is eligible for short-term care, they may be asked to contribute towards the expenses associated with respite care.

The specific amount they may be required to pay depends upon the type and level of aged care services they need. More information on contribution amounts can be found through My Aged Care.

Does the government pay or contribute towards my respite?

The Australian government provides financial assistance to support respite care through My Aged Care. The level of government funding is determined by the aged care home care package an individual is eligible for and the type of respite care chosen.

Two senior individuals sharing a laugh over a cup of tea in a respite care setting, showing the social opportunities available in respite care environments.

Respite Services for Carers of NDIS Participants

Respite care under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a form of temporary support provided to individuals with disabilities, aiming to offer relief to their primary carer.

The primary goal of respite care in the NDIS is to give caregivers a temporary break from their caregiving responsibilities, allowing them to rest, recharge, and attend to their own needs while ensuring the person with a disability continues to receive care.

It also allows participants to experience new things and explore new places.

What types of respite care are available?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) offers various types of respite care to individuals with disabilities and their caregivers.

These include in-home respite care, allowing support workers to assist within the individual's home environment, community-based respite activities fostering social engagement and recreation, and short terms accommodation (STA) in residential facilities for a more comprehensive break.

What is NDIS Respite Care?

Respite care through the NDIS extends beyond the accommodation itself, encompassing the entire range of services provided during your loved one's stay.

For example, a Short-Term Accommodation (STA) provider may run capacity-building group activities like art therapy, group fitness activities, or organised day trips, contributing to a holistic and enriching experience for your loved on.

How does the NDIS fund short term accommodation?

The NDIS allocates funds for Short-Term Accommodation through the Core Support category labelled 'Assistance with Daily Living' (Category 1) in a participant's care plan.

The funding amount your loved one is eligible for, hinges on the extent of support they need. Broadly speaking, the more support your loved one receives, the more STA funding they will have access to.

How can I get short term accommodation as part of my loved one's plan?

If your loved one wishes to include funding for respite care in their plan, it is necessary for them to make this request during their planning or plan review meeting.

How much does respite care cost?

The NDIS functions under a participant-directed funding model, empowering individuals to use their funding for accessing services that align most closely with their specific personal and care needs. This includes accessing respite care.

NDIS respite care rates are determined by the NDIS Pricing Agreements and Price Limits, establishing the highest allowable prices for respite care services.

How much STA respite can my loved one access?

Short-Term Accommodation provides for stays of up to 14 days at a time. The overall amount of STA your loved one can access will depend upon the specifics of their care plan.

What role does a support coordinator play?

A support coordinator can prove invaluable in securing the appropriate funding level in your NDIS plan and helping you prepare for your planning meeting. They can also help you find respite services.

Assistance can also be found through the carer gateway.

How can Focus Care Help?

Focus Care is a provider of in home aged care services and is a registered NDIS provider offering support coordination services.

When it comes to your care, your choices are our focus. We have a person-centred approach and take the time to get to know you and your goals.

Our friendly support team is always ready to have a chat about your aged care or NDIS needs. When you’re ready, just reach out. 

We’re here to help. 

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