Respite Care in Practice

Respite Care

What we know

Caring for someone can be a valuable and rewarding experience but it can also be stressful both mentally and physically. Respite care is planned or emergency care which provides a temporary break both for a carer and the person receiving care. Evidence indicates that carers are satisfied with respite care and that it helps them to continue in their role. However, how this best works is not well understood. Attention to the needs of the carer and the person receiving care is important in shaping respite care.

What can I do?

Recognise and acknowledge the role and contribution of the carer.

Acknowledge that the family or carer may feel stressed and/or possibly guilty about using respite services.

When talking to carers and families about respite care, use simple language and reflective listening to appreciate what the carer and families may have truly understood from the discussion.

Let carers and families know about the Carer Gateway information on respite and the video What is respite?

Incorporating respite in the early stages of caring as part of an ongoing plan for support and assistance may provide ongoing benefit to the carer.

Many families and carers find it best to start with small breaks and build up to longer ones to gain confidence in the experience.

For respite care for older people, contact My Aged Care - Phone: 1800 200 422

For emergency respite, contact the Carer Gateway - Phone 1800 422 737 during or outside of business hours.

Talk to the family about their respite needs:

Share these factsheets with carers and families Respite care - get the break you need (57kb pdf), How and why to get family to help with caring (56kb pdf) and Why consider respite in a residential care facility? (60kb pdf)

Share the Carer Gateway resources with carers to help them understand the cost of respite.

Make sure that patients, carers and families are aware of respite options and provide them with information so that they can find out more.

What can I learn?

Respite care information can be found at:

Watch these videos:

Complete a PCC4U learning module - carers’ needs including respite

What can my organisation do?

Ensure that information about options for respite and its potential benefits is available for carers.

If you are developing a respite program, you will need to consider:

  • recognising and acknowledging the role and contribution of the carer
  • that carers may not appreciate how respite could benefit them
  • that carers may find it hard to let go or need time to gain confidence in the experience
  • how care preferences are discussed, agreed and clearly documented including what to do if something unexpected happens
  • training staff for response to emergencies
  • building in evaluation and feedback mechanisms.

Page updated 15 June 2021