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Come to grips with respite – it’s not a guilty pleasure


Come to grips with respite – it’s not a guilty pleasure

Respite gives carers a break, and a safeguard against burnout. KENDALL MORTON explains the world of in-home and residential respite care.

Being the main carer for a loved one at home can be demanding – physically, mentally and emotionally.

Residential respite is when a person stays in a residential facility for a short time, usually two weeks, and receive meals and individualised care. They can participate in leisure activities, meet people or keep to themselves.

It is available to people over 65 who have had an ACAT assessment and been approved for respite. Generally, this approval is for up to seven weeks a year.

Most places take bookings for a minimum of two weeks but this can vary depending on vacancies.  If you want one week, ask.

There is a basic daily fee of around $50 for a place in respite, which is called a co-contribution.

The federal government pays the major costs of this care.

Before choosing a facility, phone around and ask some questions. For instance, you may wish to know if you can have a single room or if the building is all on ground level.

Waiting times can differ. When you call or visit, have a copy of your ACAT assessment handy so you can show that you are approved for respite.

Residential respite is a cost-effective way for a carer, such as a spouse, to arrange care for a loved one when they need to get away themselves. For instance, there may be a family wedding. Dad may be unable to travel and mum may want to go without worrying about dad’s care and safety at home.

In residential respite, the family member is safe and supervised and has access to care 24 hours a day. For some, staying at home may not be viable.

Many people use respite as a trial run to see if they like a care facility before applying for permanent care. This is a practical idea.

The second type of respite is in-home respite, which is ideal for getting help at home for a few hours a week, overnight or for longer periods.

In-home respite can be tailored to family needs, so speak to a home care provider to see what’s possible.

It can be funded in many ways – through a home care package or by the Commonwealth Home Support Program, which is entry level funding. It is also available to veterans through DVA funding.

Weekly respite can be booked, such as for a few hours every Tuesday afternoon. This allows the carer to get out, go to appointments or social events. Many families appreciate this consistent and predictable arrangement.

If the main carer has to be away overnight, consider whether live-in care is necessary.

Support at mealtimes and with medication may be enough. It’s a very individual thing.

Respite care at home means staying in a familiar environment, knowing where things are and having little disruption to everyday routines.

Because respite can be scheduled for a few hours each week, it becomes part of everyone’s routine. It’s possible to make more flexible arrangements at home.

Caring for a frail or unwell spouse or family member can be exhausting. There are appointments to keep, medications to check, shopping to do, visitors and carers to see to, phone calls to make. The list goes on. Respite time lets you reset and refresh.

As a carer, it’s important to attend to your own needs. Respite lets you stay connected to friends and involved in your own activities, such as a regular game of golf or lunch with friends.

These are not guilty pleasures. They are valuable health care measures.

 Kendall Morton is Director of Home Care Assistance Sunshine Coast to Wide Bay. Call 5491 6888 or email

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