Respite Care, What is the difference between respite and permanent aged care?

Respite Care supports you and your carer by giving you both a break for a short period of time. It can give you and your carer the time and space to do things independently. 

If approved, respite care is available for up to 63 days of care in a financial year. This includes both planned and emergency residential respite care. If you have used up all your days you may be able to apply for an extension in lots of 21 days. This may be required due to your care needs, carer stress, or the absence of your carer.

Respite care is provided by residential aged care facilities and home-care services. Respite care could be provided in your home, in a day-care centre, out in the community, or in a residential aged care facility.

It is most commonly provided in aged care facilities for a few days or weeks. Residential respite is best suited if you need ongoing, continuous carer support for most tasks. You will need to book in for a short-term stay and will need to check if the facility has availability. The period of stay will be specified in an entry letter. Due to the level of demand, most facilities limit stays to one or two weeks at a time.

You may be eligible for residential respite care if you are an older person who has a carer to help you with your day-to-day care needs. 

You will need an assessment to determine your eligibility. The criteria are the same for permanent residential care. If eligible, your assessor will also work with you and your carer to find a suitable aged care home. 

You can access residential respite in addition to receiving support from the Commonwealth Home Support Programme or a Home Care Package. However, you cannot access residential respite care if you are already permanently living in an aged care home.

Day-care respite is usually provided at day-care centres, community centres, or some residential aged care facilities. It provides you with the opportunity to talk and interact with other people and is available during the day. Day respite often runs from 10 am to 3 pm and may include transport to and from the centre. 

Cottage respite is available overnight or over a weekend. It takes place in the community or in the home of a host family. It can be taken for two to three days at a time. 

Flexible respite is available during the day or overnight. It can be provided in your home or in the community. It usually involves a paid carer coming to your home so that your usual carer can take a short break. 

Sometimes, carers just need a few hours to themselves. In this case, there is short-term respite care. Short-term respite care may allow the carer to do things like weekly shopping, attend a regular weekly meeting or have an outing with friends.

Short-term respite care can be provided in the home where a familiar person visits and cares for the person. It can also be provided at a day-care or therapy centre.

If help at home is not enough to provide the assistance needed to maintain independence, residential aged care may be needed.

Residential aged care provides care and accommodation for people who have been assessed as requiring higher levels of care than can be provided in the home. This may include 24-hour nursing care. Residential care is both on a permanent and temporary (respite) basis.

If you are entering residential aged care you are required to fund your accommodation, basic living expenses, and a contribution towards your care. This may require asset restructuring including the family home to fund lump sum and ongoing cashflow needs.

If you have any questions, consulting with an Aged Care Expert is a great way to learn more about your best options. Get in touch now with one of our Aged Care Experts.

Author: Shaun Ganguly

Director and Financial Planner at Retirement Village Financial Advice and Aged Care Financial Planning, Shaun Ganguly specialises in complex Aged Care, Retirement Living, and Centrelink matters. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance & Economics), and is an FPA Accredited Aged Care Professional, Aged Care Guru, and Certified Financial Planner.

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