Q: Dad is 92 and lives at home with the financial support of a Home care package.  I provide the majority of care as he lives locally to me.  My husband and I are going on a trip and I need to seek short term residential care for dad whilst I am away.  What options do I have available?

A: There are two types of respite care services available for your dad; residential respite care and community respite.

Residential respite care is provided by aged care facilities that are approved for extra service places.  Accommodation can be provided either on an emergency basis or booked in for a planned stay.

Fees will vary between facilities but typically include a basic daily care fee of $51.21 and a daily extra services fee if applicable, usually for higher standard accommodation that may include additional luxuries such as Foxtel or WiFi.  You are obliged to pay the extra service fee for the bundle of services, whether you use them all or not. Some facilities provide additional services such as hairdressing or physiotherapy. Unlike extra services fees, your dad can only be charged an additional service fee for something that he can make use of or benefit from.

An alternative to residential respite care is community respite. Community respite is provided under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme to those found eligible. There are 3 types of community respite services available; Centre based, Cottage respite and Flexible respite.

Centre-based respite is available during the day. It provides the opportunity for your dad to talk and interact with other people, and usually takes place at a day centre, club or residential setting. Day respite often runs from 10am to 3pm 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 in the day or overnight. It can be provided in your dad’s home or in the community. It usually involves a paid carer coming to his home so that you, as your dad’s carer can take a short break.

Your dad will need to have been assessed by the Aged Care Assessment Team.  The criteria are the same for permanent residential care. 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.

Your dad may be eligible for up to 63 days of respite care each financial year.  This can be extended by an Aged Care Assessment team if they feel extended time is warranted.

For emergency respite care contact your local Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre on 1800 052 222.