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The benefits of respite care

Updated: Mar 30, 2019

The benefits of respite and how it works under the NDIS

What does respite look like under the NDIS?

Offering care and support to a family member with disability is rewarding. The sense of purpose, achievement and satisfaction you get from your caring responsibilities are what drives you to keep going. But the nature of these responsibilities can sometimes mean you have to make sacrifices. And this might be at a personal cost to you.

Many people like you, who care for children and family members with a disability aren’t able to work full-time. And sometimes this can also impact your social life. As a result, you may find yourself experiencing financial stress, and/or suffering poor health and low wellbeing.

This is why respite care is so beneficial.

What is respite care?

Respite provides the opportunity to have a break from your responsibilities via alternative care. This can occur within your home or in a special facility during the day, overnight, or for longer periods of time. While it offers you a well-earned break, respite also provides an opportunity for the person with disability to meet new people and enjoy a form of leisure and/or learning activity. So, it’s a win-win scenario.

However, respite is often an un-tapped resource. From the Carers NSW 2018 Carer Survey, it was discovered that only 43% of respondents used respite - with 37% of those people actually wanting to use more. The accessibility to suitable respite could be affecting this usage, with research by National Disability Services (NDS) highlighting only 40% of Australian organisations offered respite services in 2017.

But the future of respite is starting to look brighter. In March 2018, the Australian Government announced funding of an additional $85.6 million over four years for the introduction of new services for carers, including many forms of respite. So, there will be many more opportunities to take care of yourself and step away from your big responsibilities from time to time.

How respite works under the NDIS

If you’re struggling to source information online, it’s probably because ‘respite care’ is a term the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is moving away from.

The terminologies more frequently used under the NDIS include:

  • Short Term Accommodation and Assistance (STAA) - This refers to temporary support which is different from usual arrangements. STAA includes non-typical days and may include short stays in a group-based facility (short term accommodation), or the purchase of additional in-home support.

  • Assistance with Daily Living - This category refers to assisting with and/or supervising personal tasks of daily life to enable the participant to live as autonomously as possible. This support can be provided in a range of environments, including but not limited to, the participant’s own home.

  • Assistance with self-care overnight - This refers to assistance with, or supervision of, personal tasks of daily living where overnight support is needed. There are different levels involved, such as where the caregiver has the option to sleep, must remain awake, or provide intensive overnight support.

Source: NDIS Price Guide, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania

Valid from: 1 July 2018

While ‘respite care’ traditionally focuses on the carer, you may notice there has been a shift in focus. Under the NDIS, rather than focusing on the carer for respite-type services, the emphasis is now on the care and support for participants.

Regardless of the language used, the outcome remains the same. All opportunities to embrace outside assistance gives you the opportunity to focus on your health and wellbeing so you’re able to sustain your informal caring responsibilities in the long-term.

What respite options are available to participants and carers under the NDIS?

There are three levels of respite services available under the NDIS. The level of support provided is determined by the level of disability and support required from families and carers.

The respite levels include:

  • Level 1: Between 7 to 14 days per year to allow families or carers to attend key activities relevant to other members of the family

  • Level 2: Between 14 and 28 days per year as part of a strategy to build future independence

  • Level 3: 28 days per year where families and carers provide support most days but their care recipient is experiencing severe behavioural issues or requires intensive support

Higher levels of support may also be provided to ensure that families and carers are able to continue working or studying, or to put more long-term supports in place.

Source: 2016/2017 NDIS Price Guide VIC/NSW/QLD/TAS, Valid from 1 July 2016.

The different types of respite

Respite comes in various forms. Your personal situation will determine the best option for you and your family.

Formal respite services include:

  • In-home respite – A care worker provides care in the home or may organise to take the care recipient out for an activity. In-home respite can also be overnight.

  • Centre-based respite – This is usually held at a centre or club that organises group activities for people with disability.

  • Community access respite – Activities provided to encourage social interaction and some independence in the person you care for.

  • Residential respite care – Organising a short stay in a residential care home for the care recipient.

  • Consumer-directed respite care (CDRC) – A CDRC package is created to give you greater choice about the type and delivery of respite care.

Source: Carers Australia QLD, Understanding Respite Care Fact Sheet, March 2018

How do I access respite?

If you think respite care will benefit both you and the participant, it’s worth starting a conversation about the most suitable types when preparing for the NDIS. It might be that one of the participant’s goals is to be more independent in a few areas in their life, such as around the home, in the community and at work.

Any support in these areas will provide you with a well-earned reprieve from your day to day care responsibilities – and help prepare your dependent to become a fully functioning member of society. For more information on these core supports, check the 2018/19 NDIS Price Guide.

If you already have an NDIS Plan, and want to find out more about your eligibility for respite care, speak with your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or Plan Manager who can offer further advice.

Once you know your eligibility, you can search for respite care support services in your area by using First2Care’s free search tool, by selecting, Find a Planner from your dashboard, or Connections > Find Providers from the menu. Then choose the Support Category: 01 Daily Activities to check off the items you need, such as ‘Short term accommodation and assistance’. Any matching providers will appear below for you to contact. Simple!

Different types of respite care and what it looks like under the NDIS

Over to you

Have you thought about respite care within your NDIS Plan? Let us know what has worked or hasn’t worked for you in the comments below.