Caring can be physically and emotionally exhausting and one way to support carers is to make sure they can have breaks from their caring responsibilities.

Although caring can be very satisfying, it can also affect carers socially, emotionally and physically. Carers may have:

  • sleeping problems
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • feelings of uncertainty, hopelessness and helplessness.
To allow your family carer to take a break, alternative arrangements will be needed for your care. These alternative arrangements are called respite care. Respite care provides breaks for carers to take a holiday, attend to their own health, or do anything else that they choose. Having regular breaks, and even just knowing that respite is available if needed, may help carers continue to provide care at home.

Respite care can be provided for a few hours or for several weeks. There are four main types of respite services:
  • home-based respite — when a care worker comes to your home to provide care usually provided by your family carer
  • centre-based day respite — in a day centre
  • short stay respite — in residential aged care or a hospital
  • special holiday arrangements — such as when you stay with another family.
Family and friends can also provide respite care.

Case study

John & Sheila

John and Sheila have been married for 55 years. John is very frail now and Sheila is his carer. Once a week, John is picked up in a community bus and goes to a day centre where he meets his friends. John is involved in activities that he enjoys and is taken for scenic drives.

Once a month, John stays overnight at a respite centre; for two weeks of the year, he goes into a residential facility. John enjoys getting out and about and the respite gives Sheila time to look after herself and to have a break. This respite supports Sheila to care for John at home and helps to keep her feeling well.