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Differences between respite at home and nursing home respite

At some point you may need to access respite, it may be because your carer needs a break, to relieve stress; to have more time to themselves, or your carer is unable to provide care during a specific period of time.

Key points:

  • Eligible people can receive up to 63 days of respite care in any given year

  • You will be assessed for how much care and support you can access during your respite time

  • How much you pay can differ from provider to provider, however, the Government subsidy should remain the same

Older woman with her respite carer
Respite is aiming to provide you and your carer with a break while ensuring you are still receiving quality care over this time. [Source: iStock

This service can happen during the day or overnight, or for a select amount of hours each day. Depending on what you receive, long or short term care, your own carer will be able to use that time to take a break from their caring duties. Some providers may provide 24-hour respite care to their clients.

Whatever the reason, respite can be provided in many different forms. The main types of respite care can be delivered at home and in a residential facility. Which option is best suited to you will depend on your personal circumstances and the outcome of an aged care assessment.

Both respite options can have different benefits that will add to your overall care during this period of respite.

Respite overview

Just like any other type of Government subsidised home care and aged care service, all respite care must meet certain standards, including the quality of care you receive as well as the amount of respite care you have available.

Government funded respite provides up to 63 days of respite care in any year with the option of having respite access extended by a further 21 days if you receive approval from an Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/S) or Regional Assessment Service (RAS).

Any respite you use will be taken off your total respite care allowance, which you are able to check on your My Aged Care account.

Respite is aiming to provide you and your carer with a break while ensuring you are still receiving quality care over this time, so you will be supplied with the appropriate support you need.

Carer Gateway, a Government hub for carers, should be your first point of contact when organising respite for yourself or an older loved one you care for, you can contact them on 1800 422 737.

Respite at home

Receiving respite at home means you will have a visiting carer that will provide care and support for a certain period of time in your own house. This may be for a few hours, part of or a whole day or even overnight.

Accessing respite in your own home can be quite comforting to older Australians and can reduce the stress of your normal carer being away from you.

It also allows for older Australians to remain living independently in their own community.

Government assisted in home respite is provided through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP or Home Care Packages (HCP) program. You will need to pay something towards your respite if you can afford to.

Alternatively, you are able to pay privately for in home respite care services that you require.

Your assessor will assess how much care you require over this respite period to make sure you are safe and well cared for while your carer is away.

Differences from residential respite:

  • You are able to receive carer support within your own home

  • Feel comfortable in your own environment

  • Carer is reassured that someone is taking care of you while you remain independent at home

  • Don't feel too displaced because you haven't left your residence

  • You do not pay a daily fee like you would in residential respite, the amount is coming out of you Home Care Package or Commonwealth Home Support Programme funding

Residential respite

To access residential respite care, you will be moving temporarily into an available bed at a nursing home, either for a long or short stay.

For that time you will be considered a resident of the nursing home and you will be provided with the same level of care as a normal aged care resident would be.

When in the aged care home, you will be able to use all of the amenities, facilities and activities that are available to normal residents.

It is considered a great way to also experience aged care life before moving in, so it can give you a taste of what to expect in the future or if you want to get a better understanding of a nursing home you are currently looking at.

Before you are able to receive residential respite you will need to be assessed by an Aged care Assistance Team/Service (ACAT/S). They will decide how much respite care you are eligible for and determine if you have low or high care needs. 

The cost for residential respite are different from a permanent place in the facility. You will be required to pay a daily fee for your time spent in the home but will not be charged for accommodation costs. If you can afford it, then you will also be asked to pay a contribution to the cost of the care in the facility. 

However, there are four different types of fees you may be asked to pay by the provider, which must be included in your temporary resident agreement.

You may have to pay between one or all four of these payments:

  • Basic daily fee, all people in aged care pay this. The maximum fee is 85 percent of the Age Pension, which is $731.50 per fortnight or $52.25 per day (Since 20 September 2020).

  • Booking fee to secure a respite care spot for a period of time. This fee will be taken from your daily fees. It cannot exceed a week's fee for respite or 25 percent of the fee for the period in respite.

  • Additional service fees are for any services that are not required to be provided by aged care facilities. You can buy additional services or a bundle of additional services to make your stay more pleasant. If you don't agree to these services, you cannot be charged for them.

  • Extra service fee is only applicable if you take a respite spot in a facility that provides extra service rooms. Extra services are hotel-like services that are above the normal requirement by providers.

The Federal Government pays a residential respite subsidy and supplement for older people who require the service.

Depending on your personal circumstances, you may also be eligible for other supplements, like enteral feeding, hardship, oxygen, or viability supplement.

Differences to in home respite:

  • More supplements and subsidies available for care

  • Payments for respite are different

  • Access to residential facility level care

  • Surrounded by other people, so you have a constant network of new people to meet

  • Have immediate access to care when needed

  • Able to experience what life is like within an aged care facility

What other differences are there between in home respite and nursing home respite? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

What types of respite care are there?
How to use respite in an emergency situation
Benefits of short term respite care

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