Dementia and respite care

Respite care is when people living in the community – usually in their own homes – access additional care and support on a temporary or more regular basis.

For people living with dementia, respite care means that both caregivers and those being cared for can arrange a break from their usual care arrangements.

Respite care typically comes in one of the following forms:

  • Out-of-home respite: Here, a person living with dementia spends a set amount of time in specialist care accommodation. Many aged care homes and private hospitals have private rooms set aside for respite.
  • Home-based respite: The person living with dementia receives additional support in the home from a registered care provider. This gives the usual carer time away from their typical care duties. This care can be full or part-time, and can include overnight care too.
  • Centre-based day respite, where the person with dementia spends a day in a dedicated centre, giving the carer time to attend to daily duties.

Benefits of respite

Respite care offers benefits for both carers and the people they are caring for.

For those with dementia, respite care is an opportunity to enjoy a high level of professional care, taking away some of the stresses of everyday living. At times, those receiving care feel guilty for being ‘a burden’ on loved ones who provide care. Respite is a time to set these feelings aside

For people caring for others, respite can be valuable in a wide variety of ways. As a break, it can be a time to ‘recharge the batteries’. It can also give carers time to have a holiday, focus on important work or tend to other family or personal commitments.

Care givers sometimes need care themselves, and respite also plays an important role in making sure carers can access healthcare themselves.

Accessing respite care

Government-supported respite care does take some planning, so – even if the need isn’t high right now – it’s worth doing some of the initial work. Then, when care is needed, it will easier and faster to access.

In emergency situations, respite care might be available from private providers. While this will typically be more expensive that supported respite care, it might be essential, depending on your circumstances.

We have developed a checklist for those wanting to access government-supported respite care.

Checklist – How to get respite care