What is residential respite care and how can it help?

respite care

Caring for a loved one is a physically and emotionally challenging role. That’s where respite care can benefit both you and your loved one. Respite care gives you a temporary break to recharge, while providing both you and your loved one time and space apart.

Respite care should be a positive experience for both the carer and the person being cared for, giving you complete peace pf mind knowing your loved one is being given high-quality care by highly-trained healthcare professionals.

You might not even currently consider yourself to be a carer, but about 1 in 11 Australians are carers, many of whom are loved ones of relatives needing care. More information and support for carers can be found on Carer Gateway.

Navigating respite care can seem overwhelming, that’s why we’ve put together this article to give you a complete guide to respite care, including how respite care works in aged care.

What is respite care?

Respite care refers to an organised, short-term break for carers and the person being cared for. It could be for as little as a few hours up to a few days or a few weeks. Respite care can be planned out in advance but is also able to be used in an emergency when you, the carer has an emergency such as an accident or hospital stay.

Respite care is there to offer short-term breaks to people caring for others who may be ill, disabled or elderly.

There are a number of different types of respite care such as in-home, at a day centre, transition care from hospital and residential respite care.

What is respite care in aged care?

Sometimes known as residential respite care, this is when respite care is provided in a residential aged care facility like Heritage Care. This type of respite care is best for people needing ongoing and continuing support.

An aged care home is responsible for providing quality services and respecting the rights of residents under the Charter of Aged Care Rights. Residents are entitled to visitors and also to head out and visit people during the day, providing it falls into the aged care homes guidelines.

Does Heritage Care offer residential respite care?

Yes, Heritage Care offers Short-term respite care at all 11 of our aged care homes in both Victoria and New South Wales. The length of respite care can be from a few days up to a few weeks and offers an opportunity to experience living in a Heritage Care community.

This includes 24/7 high-quality care from nurses and carers who works to help your loved one feel at home. As part of respite care your loved one can participate in all lifestyle activities, group social dining as well as relaxing and socialising with other residents. In fact, you will have access to the exact same services as full-time residents at Heritage Care.

One of the benefits of a respite booking is the opportunity to ‘try out’ life in one of our residential homes. If your loved one is requiring a high level of care around the clock, respite care in a Heritage Care home is a chance to see if we are a good fit for your loved one.

How many respite care days am I allowed?

If you are eligible, you are entitled up to 63 days of respite care each financial year (July 1 to June 30). This can be extended by up to another 21 days if an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT or ACAS in Victoria) approves it.

Prior to booking in your respite care you need to check your ‘respite balance’ to check how many days of respite you have. The easiest way to check your respite balance is through Services Australia.

In some cases, it is possible to change the number of days available, but you will need to check with the relevant Department of Health in your state or territory.

When should you consider respite care?

There are a number of scenarios where residential respite care could be a suitable option for your situation. They may include:

  • Transitioning from being discharged from a hospital stay when extra care might be needed before returning home.
  • Recuperating after suffering a fall where a little extra help could be needed.
  • Recharging for carers who need a break, but the reassurance and peace of mind their loved one is getting excellent care. Taking a break is key to prevent carer burnout.
  • Relaxing when you need a well-deserved holiday and want to know your loved one is being cared for by experienced healthcare professionals.
  • Trying out life in a residential community when considering whether an aged care home is right for your loved one.

How does respite care benefit carers?

Caring is a full time commitment, but it can also be a challenging balancing act with work and family commitments or other responsibilities. You might need time for your own appointments or to have some time to yourself.

Particularly if you are currently an in-home carer, there is a higher likelihood of experiencing stress and even carer burnout. Respite care offers an opportunity for you as carer and your loved one to recharge your batteries and relieve stress for both of you.

Respite care benefits both parties, especially as it frees up some time to do activities that you need to do, all whilst knowing your loved one is in the best possible care with access to tailored aged care health services and a wonderful range of engaging activities.

Respite care exists to support both individuals and carers and it’s best to book care before you begin to feel overwhelmed with caring duties. You must be able to look after yourself without guilt in order to be able to give the best care to others. Like they say on an aeroplane, you need to put on your oxygen mask first before you help others.

How do I access residential respite care?

The first step in accessing respite care is to check the eligibility. Generally speaking someone who is aged 65 or older (or 50 years for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders) and is needing help with some common daily activities would be eligible for a MyAgedCare Assessment.

This could be things like getting out of bed, going to the toilet, taking a bath, preparing meals or managing medications. Once you have determined your loved one might be eligible, you will need to apply for an assessment and meet with an assessor either in person or online.

After your assessment you will receive a letter notifying you if you are approved for government services and which particular services you are approved for, such as respite care.

Find the right residential respite provider

It’s important to find the right residential care home that is right for your loved one’s situation. Before booking your respite care stay it’s important to book a tour of any homes to check if they are right for your care needs.

Does the home offer the right level of care for your needs? Is there culturally appropriate and wholesome food? Is the home adequately clean? Are there plenty of interesting activities and a comprehensive wellness program? Do the residents enjoy living in the home? These are all good questions to ask on behalf of your loved one to ensure it’s the right home to stay in.

What do I have to do to get started?

Getting started with the respite care process can be confusing. If you’re unsure chat to one of our friendly Heritage Care Client Services Managers to help walk you through the process.

This could include discussing the care needs of your loved ones, what sorts of comforts will be available, and how convenient the location is for you to visit your loved one.

It’s worth noting that respire care isn’t free, but it is subsidised by the Australian Government. In an aged care home, there is no income-test or accommodation fees. Instead, residents are charged a fixed fee per day, currently set at 85% of the single aged pension.

Any of our Client Services Managers can help you work out the cost of your residential respite care stay. We will work with you to identify the best fit Heritage Care home, suitable dates and preparation of documentation for admission.

Respite care offers the chance so both carer and individual being cared for to check of the three R’s for wellbeing: Rest, Recharge and Recuperate. This leads to more positive outcomes for carers and their loved ones to continue providing the best possible care for as long as possible. When the time comes to look at a more permanent care solution, a residential aged care home like Heritage Care is there to help.