Caring for the Carer
Providing care for a loved one is a wonderful thing, but it can also be exhausting. When the person we are caring for is family, that can make it even more difficult. Putting in the effort to ensure that your loved one has the best quality of life is no easy feat. Thankfully, some help is at hand.
What is Respite Care?
Respite care, also known as short-term care, is a form of support for those needing care and for those providing it. A safe space, it gives the carer the opportunity to attend to daily activities, get away, and even go on trips, while having the peace of mind that their loved one is in a supportive environment. Respite care can often be given informally by family or friends, but it may also be offered by professional services and even aged care homes.
Knowing that someone in your care is in a supportive and safe environment, receiving the care they need, helps carers pursue a more active, well-rounded life. Respite care offers the opportunity for those providing care to engage in wider social circles, take holidays, and even just pop out to go to the movies and do some shopping. Respite care is even available to support a family member’s working career, providing a space for those in care to go during the day so they are not alone and are having their day-today needs well met.
Respite care can be used on a planned or emergency basis, offering options for carers to tend to their needs and make space for their daily function – beyond that of operating as a carer. A carer may need to use respite care to attend a wedding, visit another family member, go grocery shopping, go to work, tend to an emergency, or even just go on holiday.
Types of Respite Care
There are a few types of respite care to consider. When assessing which suits you, be sure to talk to the person in care and ask about what they want and why you want to pursue seeking a respite service. This ensures that both needs are met and that both parties receive the best from the service.
In-Home Respite: This type of care usually involves a carer who is active in the workforce and requires assistance for a few hours during the day. The respite service can attend the home directly, taking the person in care out for a few hours, or staying in and tending to daily needs. This service may extend overnight to allow the carer to go away for an evening and not have to worry about the nightly routines back at home.
Centre-Based Day Respite: Taking care at a private day centre, club or aged care facility, centre-based day respite offers more personalised, structured activities and has the benefit of encouraging social and physical wellbeing amongst its attendees. Day respite can include day-trips, as well as providing a safe and structured base for function.
Overnight/Weekend Respite: Overnight care is needed for a variety of reasons. A carer may need to go away for business, or maybe they are celebrating an anniversary, or they just need some time to themselves. Many overnight respite options offer a variety of settings and levels of care, ranging from respite houses and cottages, respite lodges, private rooms, and even homes provided and run by a host family.
Community Access Respite: This form of respite provides activities that allow a carer to tend to their own needs while their loved one receives a social experience. Offered in a group setting, this form of respite care often takes the form of day, or even overnight, trips away.
Transition Care: Respite care may also be useful for those who have just been in hospital but have been discharged and require more care than usual. Transition care offers short-term care focused on particular therapies to help an individual become more independent, and help their carer with the extra responsibilities after a hospital stay. This form of care may also help a carer consider their options for longer-term care facilities and decide what therapies and services are needed down the line.
The Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre carried out a survey of carers. This comment from a carer sums it all up, “Everyone needs their own time. Don’t feel guilty when you time yourself out… You have to be able to step back.”
The cost of respite care may vary depending on the circumstances. The Australian Government subsidises a range of aged care services in the country, and if you qualify you may be able to utilise these subsidies toward receiving respite. Caring for the carer is such an important part of looking after a loved one, and we often forget that those providing the most hands-on services are the ones that need the most rest.