Many underestimate the importance of rest time when it comes to providing care to a family member or friend. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicates that 55 per cent of primary carers performed their caring role for more than 20 hours per week. This was regardless of other employment or personal responsibilities. But this ongoing commitment can become taxing on your physical and mental health if you don’t take ample breaks.
Many carers will have heard of respite care providers, but few will know:
- What the service entails.
- What respite options are available.
- How to identify when they should try this temporary care.
To help, we've created this guide for carers defining what respite care services are and identifying when this care option might be suitable.
Respite offers carers the chance to rest while those in their care still receive the attention needed.
What is respite care?
Respite care is a period of relief from regular caring duties, providing a break from day-to-day responsibilities while dependents continue to receive care from qualified individuals. Respite offers carers:
- The time needed to recharge the batteries and address their own health issues.
- A chance to focus on their own happiness, hobbies and personal goals.
- Peace of mind knowing that the dependent in their care won't be neglected if they take a break.
This period of rest is flexible to suit the requirements of the carer, depending on the length of the break needed and the support services available. The importance of respite is demonstrated by the fact that there were approximately 70,000 admissions into respite care services in 2017 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare), be that at home or in a community-access centre.
What are the respite care options available?
There are three main forms of respite care available:
- In-home respite sees a qualified carer come to where you live to give you rest time for a while. This option is perfect for those caring for a dependent or loved one at home, allowing them to remain in familiar surroundings while you attend to personal matters.
- Centre-based respite involves taking the person in your care going to a community-access facility. There, experienced care workers facilitate activities and look after a group of individuals receiving respite care, enabling you and other carers to rest. This option is great for both carers and those in need of care. Carers get to spend time at home without having to worry about their responsibilities, while those in care can socialise and join activities they may not be able to at home.
- Residential respite care means that when a carer needs a break, is sick or goes on holiday their dependent can stay at a dedicated care home. This residential facility has all of the support services needed and offers the safest environment for those in care. It's often most suitable for overnight respite, as in-home respite and centre-based facilities are most commonly used for shorter time periods.
You can access respite services in your home or at a care facility.
How can I identify when I need respite?
There are some tell-tale signs that indicate you need the break offered through respite care services. These include:
- A feeling of restlessness or exhaustion, even after ample sleep. This can be physical tiredness or mental fatigue. In either case, this exhaustion can become more serious if you continue to not take a break.
- A lack of empathy with the dependent or loved one you are looking after. If you start to feel jaded or dulled to the challenges faced by those in your care, or bitter about your care situation, it's likely time to have a period of rest.
- An inability to pursue hobbies or personal goals due to lack of enthusiasm. If your caring duties ever interfere with your independent life, you need to re-evaluate how these responsibilities affect you and take breaks to strive for personal passions.
Am I eligible for respite care support?
Eligibility for subsidised or government-supported respite depends on several factors, including:
- The physical and mental health of the person in your care.
- Hours of care work you provide for this individual on a regular basis.
- Your financial resources.
- What respite care service you wish to access.
- The duration of the rest period required.
If you feel exhausted despite getting plenty of rest, it may be time to take a respite care break.
The Commonwealth Home Support Programme offers respite care for people over 65 who are frail aged or are in need of special palliative or dementia care. Respite and Carelink Centres offer support to those who are caring for someone young or old, with the following
- An intellectual disability
- A physical disability
- An acquired brain injury
- Chronic illness
- Mental health issues
- Frail aged care needs
- Dementia care needs
- Palliative care needs
Taking steps to secure respite care services
The ABS' Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers show 2.7 million Australians provided informal care at its last count. That's a significant number of individuals sidelining their own wellbeing to care for a loved one. It also indicates there may be millions out there who aren't aware of the support options available.
Everybody deserves a break - but many feel they don't have the option. That's why Anglicare offers respite care services. We understand the commitment needed to those in care, and want to offer carers the chance to be the best they can be. This is only possible with time to rest and the peace of mind that alternative care providers can manage in your absence.
The experienced Anglicare team offers a happy, safe and high-quality caring environment for those in need.