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Respite & residential care - Fact Sheet

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Respite & residential care - Fact Sheet

Respite care is an important service for carers that allows them to attend to other activities or simply take a break from the caring role. 

After an injury, people often need support 24/7. This is very tiring, and can be next to impossible at times. It is important to understand that it is okay to ask for support and take breaks to recoup your strength.

Carers often don't like to admit they need time off but respite care allows someone else to step in and give you that break for a few hours, a day, a week or more. It is essential to have time to revitalize yourself so that you can go on caring for your family member.


Give yourself permission

Carers often feel they must be doing something "important" or "useful" to warrant using respite - the whole point is to ensure you get time off from being useful! Placing your loved one in respite so you can relax by reading a magazine or going on a day trip is just as good a reason as any.


Don't wait until you feel stressed

You need regular breaks so that you remain healthy too. Equally, most people being cared for enjoy a new face, new conversation and new activities. Even if this is not the case, stand up for your right to access respite. It will be good for both of you in the long run.

Sometimes family and friends can provide some respite but other services are available, such as government-subsidized or commercial. For information on all types of respite, contact your nearest Brain Injury Association.


In-home respite

This is when someone comes to your home and looks after your family member while you go out and do things you can't do while caring. If there is a charge, it will be at an hourly rate.


Day centres

Day centres offer activities, companionship and stimulation for people in need of care. They are often used on a regular basis - perhaps a full day or a half-day each week - and some services offer weekend care. There may be a fee per session. Most can organize transport to and from the centre. Contact your local council or community health service.


Residential respite care

Some residential care facilities - nursing homes and hostels - admit people for a short stay while you have a holiday or break. In some areas, especially smaller country towns, the local hospital may also be able to provide this service. Nursing homes and hostels charge standard fees. Other services range widely in cost. Some have a sliding scale, depending on your income.

In theory, you may use these residential respite services for up to nine weeks a year, usually in blocks of two or three weeks. It depends on availability however, which is based on priority and need. This is assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team. Bookings need to be made well in advance. 


Emergency respite

This is not available in all areas so check first with a Commonwealth Carer Respite Centre (if you are in Australia). If emergency respite is not available, it may be important for your peace of mind to have a backup plan. This could include family, neighbours or a local service, but it is best discussed in advance.

References and further information

This is an excerpt from For Those Who Care: A Practical Guide published by BrainLink Services Ltd and available for free download from their website. Brainlink is a statewide service dedicated to improving the quality of life of people affected by conditions of the brain and providing support to their families. Visit


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