Respite services for people with a disability

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Respite care is designed to provide relief for a carer who has the responsibility for a person requiring ongoing care, attention or support; it may be used in times of unavailability of the carer, for any reason. It gives the regular carer the opportunity for time out, while still ensuring quality care for the disabled person.

Respite care may be provided in different ways depending on the individual situation. Care may be provided:

  • in-home
  • in an Australian Government-funded residential aged care facility or
  • as emergency respite care in the recipient’s home.

For more information see our pages:

Respite services are provided both by the Commonwealth Government and the State and Territory Governments; and some respite services are provided jointly.

SHOAMP Health Care Scheme: Respite services may be available to carers of seriously ill F-111 SHOAMP Health Care Scheme Group 1 participants, subject to an assessment for eligibility.

Veterans’ Home Care: Veterans’ Home Care (VHC) respite services are funded by DVA and are accessed through the VHC program. To be eligible, the recipient/disabled person must be either a Veteran Gold Card or Veteran White Card holder. Recipients must have compensation/health care entitlements for accepted conditions, under the Veterans Entitlements Act (1986), the VEA, or the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (2004) the MRCA. In addition, claimants may or may not have claims accepted under DRCA. (In other words, claimants with DRCA-only accepted conditions cannot access VHC).

The types of VHC respite services available are:

  • in-home respite
  • residential respite
  • emergency short-term home relief.

In any one financial year, DVA may pay for up to 28 days (196 hours) of in-home or residential respite care, or a combination of both. {Seven hours of in-home respite is equivalent to one day in a residential respite facility}.

The Veterans Home Care program also includes personal care services and domestic assistance.

Please see our page Help so you can stay in your home

Access to services is based on assessed need. Eligible veterans and war widows/widowers, or their carers, can call their regional VHC Assessment Agency for an assessment on 1300 550 450

In addition to respite care, DVA also funds 2 types of support services available to persons with incapacitating medical conditions accepted under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) as well as the MRCA – attendant care and household services.

Attendant Care: The types of attendant care/personal care services that can be funded for claimants with conditions accepted under DRCA/MRCA include: assistance with mobility; personal hygiene (bathing and toileting); dressing; grooming; feeding. (Medical, surgical, nursing or household services are not considered attendant care type services).

Attendant care payments are only made for expenses incurred (up to a maximum limit); the payments are additional to any other compensation payment being received through DVA.

Need is assessed by an Occupational Therapist or other suitably qualified person. For further information call DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).

Household Services: DVA may meet the costs (up to a statutory limit) for household services that are assessed as being reasonably required by a SRCA , MRCA or VEA client as a result of a compensable injury. Household services are services of a domestic nature including: cooking; house cleaning; laundry; gardening; that are required for the proper running and maintenance of the client’s household. (These services do not include home maintenance services such as painting, repairs to household items, removal of large items of rubbish or white goods, etc).

The approval of household services depends on: the level of assessed need identified; the claimant’s current household circumstances; any contributions (by the claimant) to the provision of those services prior to the claimant’s injury.

Household services payments are only made for expenses incurred (up to a maximum limit). The payments are additional to any other compensation payment being received through DVA.

Need is assessed by an Occupational Therapist or other suitably qualified person.
For further information call DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).

Other respite care services available nationally

Department of Health and Ageing

Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres: These Centres are a pivotal delivery mechanism for respite programs. They are principally funded by the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA), with additional funding provided by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), to deliver a range of respite and carer support programs. Centres provide advice about respite services; find the most appropriate respite services for carers; and coordinate access to respite services in a carer’s local area. There are 54 Centres located around Australia.

For further information, call 1800 052 222.
For emergency respite support, after business hours, please phone 1800 059 059. For all other information about respite services and assistance please call 1800 052 222 during business hours.

Programs delivered by the Centres include:

  • Home and Community Care (HACC) - jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments. The HACC program provides a range of basic maintenance and support services including respite to frail older people, younger people with disabilities and their carers, to assist in preventing inappropriate or premature admission to long term residential care.

    Please call 1800 200 422

  • National Respite for Carers Program (NRCP) - funded by DoHA. This program provides respite, information services and other support for the carers of frail older Australians, as well as carers of younger people with disabilities. There are more than 600 community-based respite services across Australia, which deliver respite care in a wide range of settings including carers’ own homes, day centres and overnight cottages.

    Please call 1800 200 422

Additional support: Carer Counselling Services – DoHA funded service providing counselling, to support carers, through Carers Australia. If you would like to find out more about carer counselling, offered through a network of caring associations around Australia, please call 1800 242 636, or talk to your nearest doctor so that they can refer you.

Department of Department of Social Services (DSS)

Further information on respite care can be obtained from DSS’s website

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