Respite care

Last updated: 
6 April 2020

What is respite care

Respite care gives the carer a break from caring duties.

There are three types of respite care available via the Veterans’ Home Care Respite Program:

Who is a carer

A carer can be a friend, partner or family member who provides ongoing care to someone who is frail or has a severe disability or illness. The carer does not need to live with the person being cared for. If you care for yourself, you may be considered a carer if you have high care needs.

Who can receive it

You may be entitled to respite care if you have a carer or you care for someone and you have either 1 of the following:

The types of respite you can access will depend on your situation.

You may be eligible for In-Home Respite if:

  • your carer needs a break from their caring duties; or
  • you need a break from caring for someone.

You may be eligible for Residential Respite if you intend to return to your home in the community, and:

  • your carer needs a break from their caring duties; or
  • you need a break from caring for yourself.

You may be eligible for Emergency Short-Term Home Relief (ESTHR) if:

  • your carer is suddenly unable to continue their caring duties; and
  • you would otherwise be left without care or admitted to hospital

How to access respite care

In-home Respite and ESTHR

For In-Home Respite care or ESTHR, you can call the Veterans’ Home Care (VHC) Assessment Agency directly on 1300 550 450 to arrange an assessment. 

The VHC Assessment Agency will discuss your needs and organise a care plan. They will send your care plan to a VHC Service Provider, who will then send the plan to you and contact you to arrange a suitable time to provide the service/s.

To arrange ESTHR outside business hours you can  contact Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737.

Residential Respite

For Residential Respite, you will need to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), or Aged Care Assessment Services (ACAS) if you are in Victoria. Call 1800 200 422 to arrange for an assessment.

Once you have been approved by ACAT or ACAS for Residential Respite, you will need to find a facility with an available respite bed. You can find a facility in your area by going to My Aged Care. Contact the facilities you are interested in to find out if they have an available bed.

If an Australian Government-funded aged care facility is not suitable, for example if you are under 65, you may be able to get Residential Respite in another type of accommodation. Call the VHC Assessment Agency directly on 1300 550 450 to discuss your options and get approval.

Once you have booked your respite bed, call the VHC Assessment Agency directly on 1300 550 450 so they can arrange for us to pay for your care.

How much you can get

Each financial year we will pay for up to 28 days of Residential Respite care, or 196 hours of In-Home Respite care, or a combination of both. To work out a combined total, we count 7 hours of In-Home Respite care as equal to 1 day of Residential Respite.

We can also pay for up to 72 hours of ESTHR each time you use it, up to 216 hours in a financial year. ESTHR is only available until you can access other suitable care.

For Residential Respite, you can access up to 63 days per financial year, and we will pay the basic daily care fee for the first 28 days. After that you will need to pay the basic daily care fee.

If you are a former Australian prisoner of war or a Victoria Cross recipient, we will pay the basic daily care fee up to 63 days.

We do not cover the cost of extra service fees or refundable booking fees.

Some Australian Government-funded aged care facilities may request a booking fee to secure a period of respite care. It will not be more than the cost of one week's respite care, or 25 per cent of the fee for the proposed period of respite care, whichever is less. The Australian Government-funded aged care facility is responsible for refunding this booking fee to you after your respite stay.

Things you should know

  • If you need more than 28 days of Residential Respite, you can contact My Aged Care to ask about additional days.
  • We do not pay for transition care, which provides therapy to help you recover after a hospital stay. To access transition care, go to My Aged Care
  • In-home respite does not include doing housework or giving medication.
  • If you receive a Service Pension or Age Pension as a member of a couple, and you enter residential respite for at least 14 days in a row, you and your partner may be entitled to the higher single rate of pension as an illness separated couple. Contact us and let us know within 3 months of entering respite so we can adjust your pension rate.
  • Other forms of respite care are available through other government agencies. See My Aged Care for details.

What to tell us

If you get a Service Pension or an Age Pension from us, you need to tell us within 14 days if any changes occur that may affect your pension.

This includes if you or your partner enters residential respite for 14 days or longer.