What is respite care?

Respite care has been designed to give carers and/or family members a temporary break from the care and support they provide to a loved one.

Depending on a person’s needs and eligibility to receive certain services, respite care can be provided for a few hours, days or even weeks. Government-funded or private home care providers can provide services from a few hours to several hours per week in the family home or families may seek 24/7 residential respite care in an aged care home for weeks at a time.

How can I access these services?

To check a person’s eligibility, apply online or to speak to an operator for access to government-funded respite care, you can go to the following locations:

  • To check if you are eligible to have an assessment you can confirm the details on the My Aged Care website here: Am I eligible?
  • To apply online for an assessment once you have confirmed your eligibility, you can submit a form through the My Aged Care website located here: Apply for an assessment
  • To speak to someone regarding your situation you may call 1800 200 422

Once assessed

Once you have been assessed, the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) will advise if they have granted approval to receive a home care package and/or residential respite care and/or residential permanent care. If residential respite care has been granted, it can be either for residential respite low care or residential respite high care. The level of care is really only relevant to the aged care provider as most homes will cater for both levels of care.

The next step is to contact aged care homes that are located in the area that will be most convenient for the resident and/or their family. Ask if there are rooms available for respite residents and request to go and look at the homes before deciding on where to make a booking.

Please note, the aged care home will request a ‘referral code’ before they will approve the booking for respite to determine the person’s eligibility for respite and to review their care needs. This will generally be a 13-digit number commencing with “1-” and should be provided to you by the ACAT person that completed the assessment. The code is then used by the provider to access the clinical information on that person and to ascertain if they can accommodate the care needs during their respite stay.

How long is residential respite care?

Once approved by the Aged Care Assessment Team for residential respite care, a person can access up to 63 days in any government-funded aged care home per financial year, subject to availability. Generally, residential respite can be used in blocks throughout the year (or as the carer requires) and, therefore, most homes will allow 2 – 4 weeks of respite in one period.

What is the cost of residential respite care?

The Federal Government sets the cost of the basic daily fee in all government-funded homes. The amount is set at 85% of the full basic single pension amount, regardless of the pension status of the residential respite resident. This fee is reviewed biannually and is adjusted according to changes in Age Pension amount.

As an example, for the period of 20/03/21 to 19/9/21, the daily fee amount is set at $52.71 per day.

Some homes may charge what is termed an Additional Services Fee or Extra Service Fee. It is important to ask if such a fee applies in the homes you are considering and what additional or extra services are provided for this fee.

Signature Care does not apply an additional services fee or extra service fee in any of their homes.

What happens if I don’t use the 63 days allocated to me?

The residential respite allocation of 63 days per year does not roll over to the next financial year. If the days are not used during the period, they are forgone for the next period. However, most approvals for residential respite care are not time limited, which means an automatic allocation of 63 days is granted again on the 1st July each financial year. The person will not need to apply again in this case and can continue using residential respite, as they require it, for many years to come.

For further information on residential respite care or any other aged care enquiries, please call 1300 1300 13.

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