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.

Do we need to sign a Caveat or be a Guarantor to Aged Care Providers?

If you are entering aged care, the aged care provider may ask for your family member or legal personal representative (LPR) to sign a guarantee. This is completely normal and every provider has a slightly different policy around it.

It is not compulsory for a guarantee to be provided, but if it is part of the admissions process and if your family declines to sign, you may not be offered a place.

The guarantee covers payment of all fees and any damages you may cause in care.

Aged care providers may ask for guarantees to protect their ability to recover unpaid fees or any other amounts owing under the agreement. These amounts may include payments towards the RAD if the RAD or mixed combination payment method was selected in the contract (due 6 months after the date of permanent entry).

Providers sometimes experience children (who have control over finances) draining their parent’s bank accounts or failing to plan adequately and do not meet their financial obligations.

The Resident Agreement is only a contract between the resident and the provider and if fees are not paid the option exists to sue the resident, but this is very difficult to do so and leads to bad publicity. So, some facilities ask the family for guarantees to ensure the fee obligations are met.

Ensure that you have both Enduring Powers of Attorney (Financial and Personal) and Enduring Powers of Attorney (Medical Treatment). These are two separate documents. If you lose capacity, only an attorney appointed under these instruments can make decisions on your behalf
(including decisions such as signing a contract to enter an aged care facility).

It is important that you seek legal advice to understand the risks and obligations.

When does the Aged Care facility have to pay the RAD or Bond back?

Aged Care Facilities and Nursing Homes are required to refund the balance of a resident’s Refundable Accommodation Deposit/Contribution or Accommodation Bond within set timeframes.
If the resident is moving to another facility and they:
• give more than 14 days’ notice, the provider must refund the RAC, RAD or Bond balance on the day the resident leaves;
• gives notice within 14 days of moving, the provider must refund the RAC, RAD or Bond balance within 14 days of receiving notice
• gives no notice before leaving, the provider must refund the RAC, RAD or Bond balance within 14 days of the resident leaving;

If the resident passes away, the provider must refund the RAC, RAD or Bond balance within 14 days after being shown probate or letters of administration.

The RAC, RAD or Bond balance is the amount the resident has paid less any deductions, which can include:
• Daily Accommodation Contributions or Payments (DAC or DAP)
• Extra or Additional Service Fees
• Basic Daily Fee
• Retention (Accommodation Bonds)
• Capital Replacement/Refurbishment Fees
• Any other fee or charge agreed between the resident and the operator

Unfortunately, we see this process held up all too often. 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 with one of our Aged Experts for a discussion.

Can I give or gift money to my family?

The simple answer is yes but be careful of the financial consequences.
The rules around gifting for aged care are in line with pension rules around gifting (deprived assets). Any gift you make in excess of $10,000 in a financial year and $30,000 in the five years prior to entering aged care will be assessed as an asset and deemed to earn income.


This assessment will impact the calculation of:
– Your pension entitlement
– Determining if you are eligible to be a low-means resident
– The amount of accommodation payment you can be asked to pay
– The amount of means-tested care fee you will be charged.
-Entitlement to apply for Hardship down the track.


You are expected to use your own resources to look after yourselves and gifts will reduce your available resources. Therefore, the government limits how much you can give. Amounts gifted above the allowable limits are “deprived assets” and assessed as financial assets. This excess is included in the assets test and income test (under deeming rules) for five years from the date of the gift.


In a typical scenario, Rosa gifted $20,000 on 01 May to her daughter.
This reduced her bank account by $20,000 but $10,000 is added back as a deprived asset for five years.
Caution should be advised before gifting any money using a Power of Attorney document or when the capacity of the donor is in any question.

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 with one of our Aged Experts for a discussion.