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The role of a carer can be incredibly rewarding – it can strengthen the bond with a loved one at a time when they need it the most. But depending on the circumstances, it can also be physically, emotionally and socially demanding.
Everyone deserves a break every once in a while. This rings particularly true for carers, because after all – you can’t look after someone else if you’re not looking after yourself.
Defining respite care
For the carer, it allows them to have some me-time, enjoy a holiday or tend to other commitments.
For the person they’re caring for, who might be living with dementia, illness or disability, it switches things up a bit and gives them the chance to meet new people and get involved in different activities.
Respite care can be offered informally through friends and family or professionally through care providers or community respite services.
Here are 3 of the most common professional respite services for seniors.
At home respite care
For short-term breaks, respite care can be provided in the comfort of home.
Generally, it involves a support worker from an aged care provider dropping in to help out with daily activities.
A support worker’s main duties revolve around caring for the home, health and happiness of a client. That includes cleaning and cooking, nursing and personal care, and offering social support.
To help make respite care a mutually beneficial experience for both regular carers and seniors, support workers will often focus on meaningful activities so clients can do something new while their regular carer has a break. That might include creative sessions, games or a scenic day trip.
Community based respite care
Respite can also be offered in specialist respite centres within the community.
As the name suggests, centre-based day respite services are often hosted during the day in a centre or club. Seniors get the chance to socialise with others, and the centre will usually plan a range of structured group activities or excursions.
Similarly, community access respite offers activities and outings in a social environment, either during the day or overnight.
To access government funding for community based respite care, seniors will need a free assessment from a Regional Assessment Service (RAS) to determine eligibility.
Residential respite care
For those with more advanced or longer term care needs, respite in a residential aged care home may be the most appropriate option.
Residential care offers 24/7 support, with nurses and care workers always on hand to help out.
It’s a safe bet for seniors who are more frail or living with cognitive impairment like dementia. Not only does residential respite prioritise safety and health, it also gives respite clients the opportunity to befriend other residents and get involved with activities like gardening, games and visiting entertainment.
To be eligible for respite in a residential aged care home, an assessment from an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) is required. If approved, the service can be provided for a minimum of one week through to nine weeks.
If you’re a carer and you need time to recharge your batteries, there’s no need to feel worried or guilty. Recognise that regular breaks are important for your own wellbeing, and know that your loved one is in good hands.