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When carers need a break: your options for taking time out

If you’re the primary  carer for a family member or loved one, you’ll know that it’s not an easy job. Most carers are unpaid – and they have jobs and families and other commitments to attend to, as well as their caring responsibilities. And this can leave little or no time to relax or spend time caring for themselves. 

Sometimes a carer needs time out – whether it’s because they’ll be away, they have to work or other commitments, or sometimes they just need a break because of carers fatigue. 

Carers fatigue is a real condition that can take its toll, causing fatigue, anxiety, and depression – as well as potentially leading to physical illness or risk of injury.

It’s important for carers to take breaks – not only for themselves, but also for those relying on them. That way, they can recharge their batteries, take care of other areas of their lives, and be able to come back to their caring tasks without making themselves unwell. 

Although some carers hesitate to schedule breaks, thinking it may seem selfish, the opposite is true. Taking care of yourself as a carer is the responsible thing to do, for you, your long-term health, and for those around you.

If you don’t have someone who can take over the caring duties for you from time to time, you may want to look into short-term, or respite, care.

Aged Care mother and daughter

What is Respite Care?

Respite Care is when someone else takes care of the person you usually care for, to give you a break. This might be scheduled – for you to take a holiday or have regular time out – or emergency, if you suddenly become ill or have to travel for work.  

What are the benefits of respite care for carers?

Respite Care can help to reduce the amount of stress that carers feel, by providing a needed break – you might call it ‘carer respite’ – but that’s not the end of the story. Other benefits you might not expect include:

  • restoring energy and patience for the caring role
  • an opportunity to prioritise other areas of life
  • improved ability to cope with day-to-day responsibilities
  • ability to reconnect with hobbies, friends, and personal development
  • an increased sense of balance in life. 

What are the benefits of Respite Care for those being cared for?

It might come as a surprise that those being cared for also benefit from their carers taking a break. Those benefits include:

  • a variety in their relationships and social opportunities
  • the chance to grow and develop
  • quality care that suits their needs – especially if their respite care is being provided by professionals
  • a change of scenery and company, which can be energising
  • if respite care is provided in an Aged Care setting (sometimes called ‘Aged Care homes’), it can provide a transition to Aged Care that is gentle and welcoming. 
TriCare Aged Care Locations Annerley Resident and Carer

How do I take a break as a carer?

The best way to organise Respite Care is to plan ahead. This way, you can look at your calendar and plan for times during the year that it would be most helpful to schedule the Respite Care in. It also gives you an opportunity to decide what arrangements you’d like to make.

If you are having a friend or family member step in to help, you can ask them to schedule in time to give you a break. If you are planning on using residential Respite Care – because you need a break or perhaps because you’re planning for aged care as a more permanent solution – planning ahead gives you time to go through the steps:

  1. Arrange an ACAT assessment for your loved one. The Australian Government funds various care services, including Respite Care for seniors. To be eligible to receive Aged Care in Australia, your loved one must be assessed by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). You can apply for an assessment through My Aged Care
  2. Shop around and find an Aged Care Residence that is convenient, and that you feel comfortable with. For TriCare Aged Care Residences, you can book a free consultation with our Aged Care Specialist Team by calling 1300 874 2273. They’ll review the ACAT assessment and ask questions to understand your loved one’s clinical needs and financial requirements, and explain our range of Respite Care services and accommodation options.
  3. Arrange a tour. Visit your preferred location, meet the team, and ensure the suitability of the residence for your loved one’s respite stay.
  4. Complete an application. 
  5. Accept an offer of place and commence your first stay. 

If you have more urgent needs for Respite Care, this can also be arranged. The first thing to do if you need an ACAT assessment is to call Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737. And TriCare’s Aged Care Specialist Team are happy to help you find a place, if you call them on 1300 874 2273.

Respite Care at TriCare Aged Care Residences

Whether it’s an emergency due to stress, illness, or unexpected unavailability, TriCare’s Respite Care service is here to help.

All TriCare Aged Care Residences throughout Queensland and Victoria offer Respite Care. We welcome respite guests to stay in our homes for a few weeks, or even a few months, if their carer needs a break, or if they need more comprehensive care, usually after an illness or surgery. 

And we’re always happy to talk with you about future plans if you’d like to transition to Aged Care placement on a more permanent basis for your loved one. 

You can browse our Aged Care Residences here to find one that suits you.

What is included with Respite Care?

Residential Respite Care with TriCare means that your loved one will have access to all the support that is usually provided to long-term residents of TriCare Aged Care Residences. 

This care includes 24-hour nursing care, help with mobility, eating and wound dressing, comfortable accommodation, fresh meals, cleaning and laundry services, social activities and events.

This means that while you take the time to attend to your own needs, your loved one’s needs will be completely taken care of in a safe environment.

What happens to your carer payments?

If you’re receiving carer payments from Centrelink, you’re allowed to have 63 days of respite each calendar year, without it affecting your payments. 

You are obligated to inform Centrelink if you take a break, though, which you can do via MyGov, or by speaking to Centrelink. 

If you have exceptional circumstances and need a longer break, you can call Services Australia’s Disability, sickness and carers line to talk about your situation.

Want to learn more about Respite Care at TriCares Aged Care Residences? Click below to make an enquiry or book a tour.

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