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The Increasing Need for Respite Care in Australia

Understanding Respite

Respite is when you take a break from your caring duties so that you can fulfill the other important parts of your life. There are respite care services available whereby the person that you look after is safely cared for. Services available include at home, community and residential respite care.

Except in the case of emergency respite, planning ahead and organizing respite care in advance will allow you to make the most of your break time. Many people are unaware of the respite care options out there.

Formal respite care is predominantly government funded respite care. It’s typically provided through a residential aged care facility. Additionally, people can receive formal respite care through a government-subsidised home care package, or the Commonwealth home support programme. This type of respite care can be in a community setting or in the comfort of your home. To determine your eligibility to access formal respite care, contact My Aged Care to discuss an assessment from the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) or the Regional Assessment Service (RAS). Others can access private respite care through certain agencies. Although this is a feasible option, there’s a full out of pocket cost to the carer or care recipient.

Unfortunately due to the increasing need for community and residential respite care placements, there’s been an apparent shortage in many communities.

Increasing Need for Respite Care

It’s well known that there’s a growing ageing population in Australia as people live longer lives. A recent study found that 80% of Australians access an aged care program at some stage of their lives, and this is only set to increase. You may ask why? Apparently people are getting older and there’s a shrinking younger population because people have smaller families nowadays. This means that there’ll be less voluntary care available for people as they age, as well as an increase in older people who’ll require care. Hence the increased pressure and need to provide more aged care services in the future.

holding hands in residential respite care

Many issues have come to light through the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety hearing. This includes issues surrounding lack of support for unpaid, informal carers who typically care for a loved one. It’s clear that there’s a need for more respite care, to ease the pressures of voluntary carers.

Furthermore, during the Royal Commission hearing, issues raised included the lack of available residential respite care places for aged care recipients. As respite care is essential for the wellbeing of carers, providing access to these services is an increasing issue.

Future Changes in Respite Care

So where do we go from here? It’s clear that increasing the number of trained, qualified care workers who can provide safe respite care is essential. It also appears that there’s an increasing need for the provision of formal respite care in Australia.

If you’re a voluntary caregiver and you’re struggling with the demands, the Carer Gateway offers practical support and advice for carers. There’s help available.


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