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The benefits of short term care

There are a few different options available if you only need support for a short period of time. These include supports to help restore your independence, for example after an illness or injury, or to give you or your carer a short break.

Last updated: July 7th 2022
Older woman with therapist doing weighted exercise lifting arms in front of her body while holding dumbells (Source: Shutterstock)
Depending on your needs and circumstances, short term care can help (re)gain your independence (Source: Shutterstock)

Key points:

  • If you only require assistance for a short period of time to get your confidence and independence back, there are a number of short term options available to help you
  • Short term options generally run over several weeks to help you get back into the swing of things
  • These short term options aim to reduce the likelihood of you requiring higher level care or moving into a nursing home

Types of short term care available

What type of short term care is best for you will depend on your circumstances and the level of assistance you need, but all programs are aimed to help you regain your independence, build strength or develop skills so you can continue to live well at home.



​Short Term Restorative Care

If you have been sick or had a fall and your mobility is temporarily impaired, you may benefit from the Short Term Restorative Care (STRC) program to help restore independence.

The program focuses on regaining wellbeing and independence over a short period of time, with a maximum of eight weeks.

Working with a team of professionals, this flexible care option aims to reverse or slow functional decline and help improve your health and wellbeing to avoid you needing to access ongoing home care services or even residential care.

The service is tailored to your specific needs and can help you build physical strength and develop the skills to adjust to the differences in your abilities.

This could involve activities and exercises that will benefit your mobility or could result in home modifications to make everyday tasks more manageable.

STRC services can be delivered in your own home or in a nursing home but you will need to undergo an aged care assessment before you can access services to make sure you are eligible.

This assessment is done by the Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/S) and is only valid for six months.

Transition care

The Transition Care Program provides short term support and assistance to help improve your independence and confidence at the end of a hospital stay.

The program often includes low intensity therapy, such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy, personal care like help with showering or transport to appointments, and also nursing support. It provides goal oriented, time limited and therapy focused care either in your own home or in an alternative non-hospital environment, which may be an aged care home.

Transition care is delivered by approved providers who will offer a package of services helping you to regain strength and confidence so you can transition back to living independently in your own home.

You can access transition care for up to 12 weeks, although it is possible to extend this for another six weeks if needed.

To be eligible for transition care, you must be an in‑patient of a hospital with an assessment by the Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/S). A hospital discharge planner or social worker can help you get access to the program.

Day/overnight respite

There may come a time when you or your carer need to take a break from your day-to-day situation or require some extra care and support. This is known as respite care.

Respite care offers the opportunity for both you and your carer to take some time away from each other. It can be provided in your own home, a community setting or an aged care home and may be for a few hours, a day, a night or a few weeks.

It is offered in a variety of settings including:

  • In home respite services where someone comes to stay with you in your own home, for a full day, part of the day or overnight
  • A break away from home where a support worker takes you on an outing in the community
  • Day care centres that provide respite for a half or full day in a centre based setting
  • Activity programs and social outings in a group or on your own with a care worker
  • Residential respite for a short stay in an aged care home

Depending on your circumstances, respite can be made available to you or your carer and can include individualised social and recreational activities. Some day programs may include excursions, outdoor/indoor activities or holiday programs.

Respite is a great opportunity for a change from the everyday routine, to recharge your battery, socialise and meet new people, all while knowing you or your loved one will still be well supported.

To work out whether respite will benefit you, you'll need to be assessed by an ACAT/S.

If you're approved for respite and ready to find a provider, Carer Gateway can help you arrange respite nearby. You can contact the service on 1800 422 737.

​Respite in an aged care home

If your carer is unable to look after you for a period of time, for example because they are unwell or are going on a holiday, you can access respite care in an aged care home.

This could be for a couple of days or a few weeks. During your stay you will be considered a resident of the nursing home and have access to the same quality care as a regular resident of the facility.

Residential respite can also be a good way to find out what it's like to live in an aged care home and if the home is suitable for you, if you're considering moving into aged care permanently.

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

Subsidised residential respite is available for up to 63 days a year but this can be extended with an extra 21 days if you get approval from your aged care assessor. You'll need to book respite in an aged care home in advance, although in the case of emergencies it can be organised quite quickly.

If you contact the Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737 you can talk to someone who can help to organise respite near you.

What if I need to organise emergency respite?

If an unexpected event has left you in a situation where you are unable to look after yourself or your carer is unable to care for you, because of a sudden illness or other personal issues, you can access emergency respite.

This temporary care option will make sure you are looked after until things settle down or a permanent solution can be put in place.

Whether you access emergency respite services in your own home, in community respite care or in an aged care home will depend on your personal situation and your level of independence.

If you find yourself needing emergency respite you can contact the Government carer support network Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737. They can assist you in finding appropriate emergency care and will make sure your support requirements are met.

How much will it cost?

The Government subsidises some of the cost for these short term care options, although you generally will need to pay a small amount towards the service if you can. The amount you'll be asked to pay can be different depending on your provider.

If you are accessing support at home or in the community, the maximum fee is 17.5 percent of the basic daily rate of the single age pension, currently $11.02 per day.

For care delivered in a 'live in' setting, such as a residential aged care facility, the maximum fee is 85 percent of the basic daily rate of the single age pension, or $54.69 per day. You don't need to pay an accommodation or means tested fee but there may be additional costs such as a booking fee or cost for any additional or hotel-like services you choose to add.

Alternatively, you can access short term care services through private providers. However, in that case you will not be able to access Government subsidies and will need to pay the full amount out of your own pocket.

Am I eligible?

An aged care assessment will determine if you are eligible for any Government funded short term care. This assessment will be done by someone from an ACAT/S.

If you are already on the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), you can still access the Short Term Restorative Care program but will need to be assessed by an ACAT/S to ensure the program meets your needs.

To access Transition Care, you need to be an in-patient of a hospital and the hospital discharge planner or social worker can help you arrange an ACAT/S assessment.

Respite at home can be accessed as part of your Commonwealth Home Support Programme or Home Care Package services but before you can start respite in an aged care home you'll need to be assessed by an ACAT/S if you haven't had one already.

To organise an assessment contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 or fill out the application form online. You will then be contacted to arrange a face-to-face assessment.

Related content:

How short-term restorative care can get you back on track
How to maintain and improve mobility and reduce falls
Benefits of short term respite care

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  2. The benefits of short term care

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