Elderly man looking to the side

Respite care

Respite care can support you and your carer with a break for a short period of time. This gives carers the chance to get to everyday activities or go on a planned break. Respite care may be given informally by family, friends or neighbours, or by formal respite care services.

Formal respite care may be for a few hours, days or for longer periods. It can take place in the home, an overnight respite cottage, a day centre or an aged care home.

There are different types of respite care to suit your situation depending on your needs, eligibility and what services are available in the area:

  • community based respite care
  • residential respite care (short stays in aged care homes).

Emergency respite care

When emergency respite care is needed, call your local Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre on:

  • 1800 052 222 during business hours
  • 1800 059 059 outside business hours.

Emergency respite care can be community based or in an aged care home.


Community based respite care

There are a range of respite services to support you and your carer so that regular carers can take a break or continue working or training. Community based respite can be on a planned or emergency basis.

Types of respite care include:

In-home respite usually involves a paid carer coming to your home so that your carer can go out for a few hours. They may also take you for an outing for a few hours while your carer has a break. This type of respite is available during the day or overnight.

Centre-based day respite usually takes place at a day centre or club. It offers structured group activities or outings that give you a chance to do things that you enjoy and talk with other people. Day respite often runs from 10am to 3pm and may include transport to and from the centre.

Overnight or weekend respite may be provided under ‘cottage style’ respite in the community or in the home of a host family.

Community access respite provides activities and outings to give you a sense of independence and some social interaction, while giving your carer a break. This may be provided to you individually or as part of a group.

Access to community based respite care

You will need a free assessment with a Regional Assessment Service (RAS) to work out if you are eligible for planned respite care under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. Call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to be referred for a free assessment with a RAS.

Read more about a RAS assessment.

If eligible, your assessor will work with you to find suitable respite services in your area. You can also call My Aged Care or look at the help at home service finder.

Residential respite care (short stays in aged care homes)

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

You may use this type of respite service if your carer will be away to attend an event, or is unwell or unable to provide care for any other reason. Once your carer is back, you will return home.

Care available

An aged care home may provide a range of care and services, depending on your needs. You can access residential respite for up to 63 days each financial year. You can extend this time in lots of 21 days if an assessment finds that you need this extra time.

Access to residential respite care

You will first need a free assessment with a member of an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT, or ACAS in Victoria). An ACAT will talk to you about your current situation and to work out if you are eligible for residential respite care. Call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to be referred for a free assessment with an ACAT.

Read more about an ACAT assessment.

If eligible, your assessor will work with you to find suitable respite services in your area. You can also call My Aged Care or look at the aged care homes service finder.

Once you have received ACAT approval for residential respite, you can contact your local Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre to access residential respite services on:

  • 1800 052 222 during business hours
  • 1800 059 059 outside business hours.

Costs

Costs for respite care vary depending on your circumstances and the kind of care you need. The Australian Government subsidises a range of aged care services in Australia. You are expected to contribute to the cost of your care if you can afford to.

What you pay is discussed and agreed upon between you and the organisation that delivers your respite services. The rate is set before you receive the services.

For residential respite care through an aged care home you will have to pay a basic daily fee and perhaps a booking fee, but not an accommodation charge, bond or any additional income-tested fees. The booking fee is a prepayment of respite care fees and not an extra payment. The booking fee cannot be more than either a full week’s basic daily fee or 25% of the fee for the entire stay, depending on which amount is the lowest.

More information

Carers can find out more about respite services and taking a break on the Carer Gateway website.

See what others have done

Last reviewed: 5 December, 2017.