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Respite & Carer Support
May 31, 2023

Respite care services: helping carers take a break

Caring for a loved one is rewarding, but respite breaks for carers are key. Learn more about respite care and how it can help.

Caring for an ageing loved one is a rewarding experience, but it also has its challenges. To keep up with the demands that caring for a loved one has, it’s important you look after your own health and take some time to refresh and recharge.

Respite breaks for carers with the help of a relative, close friend or through an aged care provider is beneficial for both yourself and the person you care for. 

In 2020-2021, over 82,000 Australians entered into residential respite care. And according to the Australian Government's Institute of Health and Welfare this number is increasing every year, with a 31% jump since 2011-2012. 

What is respite care?

Respite care services provide temporary support to a person over a short period of time to help carers take a break from their caring role. Respite care can include your loved one visiting an aged care centre or enlisting the help of a carer at home, so you can take some time out with peace of mind knowing your loved one is well taken care of. They can enjoy a change of scenery, meet new people and have access to engaging activities they may be unable to do at home. 

Where can I find respite care services?

Finding respite care services is easier than you think and there is a range of flexible respite care options available that can be tailored to to suit the needs of the individual.  

In home respite care

Many home care providers like IRT provide respite services to new and existing customers. A care worker will come and visit for a few hours or take your loved one on an outing to places they love to visit, like the local shops or a nearby park.

Friends and family

Don't be afraid to ask friends or family for a helping hand. If you need to run an errand or go to an appointment it might be ideal to have a family member or close friend stay at your home with your loved one while you're out.

Residential respite care

A short stay in a residential aged care centre is available to anyone who needs help caring for a loved one – whether it’s to go on a holiday, for a medical reason, or because you simply need a break. It can also be a way to trial whether longer-term accommodation and care is a suitable option.

Emergency respite care

If you have an emergency such as a sudden admission into hospital, you're able to access emergency respite at short notice. To find out more, contact your local Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres.

The Australian Government program Carer Gateway also provides free services and support for carers, including access to emergency respite if you are suddenly unable to provide care.

Learn more about the benefits of respite care.

How long can you stay in respite care?

Respite care can be provided for a few hours, days, weeks or months depending on you and your loved one's needs, eligibility and the type of care required.

How much does respite care cost?

Respite care services can range from free to being completely privately funded. The Australian government offers funding to older Australians and their family to access respite care services. Residential respite care is subsidised by the government for a maximum of 63 days in any financial year, subject to availability and suitability. For older people looking for respite care at home, the Commonwealth Home Support Programme helps older people to live independently in their homes and provides respite services to give carers a break.

It may feel like accessing residential respite care in an aged care centre is a daunting process, so we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

1. Get an ACAT assessment 

If you’re not already approved for respite care, phone My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 and arrange for an aged care assessment by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) for your loved one in your own home.

Once they have been assessed, you can choose to access paid respite care as often as you like, with 63 days each financial year being subsidised by the government. To find out what subsidies you may be eligible for contact My Aged Care.

2. Get in touch with your preferred aged care provider

If you’re interested in respite care with IRT, submit an enquiry through our website or call 134 478, and one of our friendly Customer Service team members will discuss with you your needs and preferences, plus determine availability at an IRT aged care centre near you.

3. Take a tour of an aged care centre

IRT offers short-term accommodation and care in a number of our aged care centres throughout NSW, the ACT and Queensland. There’s bound to be a convenient location near you. 

A tentative respite booking will be made for you and your loved one to take a tour of your preferred aged care centre. You’ll also meet with the Care Manager, to discuss your needs in more detail. 

4. Confirm your booking and prepare for your stay

Once your booking has been confirmed, finalise your paperwork, which will confirm your loved ones’ move in date and length of stay, and prepare for their stay in your selected IRT aged care centre.

Respite care with IRT

At IRT we offer compassionate 24/7 care for your loved one from our experienced team. Most of our centres offer respite care, and you can stay for a few hours, days, weeks or months. Respite residents at IRT are cared for 24/7 by our compassionate and experienced staff, allowing carers to enjoy a well-deserved break.

Find out more