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“Respite” or Taking a Break

This page contains information about taking breaks from your caring role, including who may be able to help you to take a break.

What is respite?

Caring for a family member or friend can be rewarding, but it can also be tiring. Taking regular breaks from your caring responsibilities can help you maintain your own health and wellbeing, and make your caring role far more sustainable in the long term.

Many carers find it difficult to take a break from their caring role, often because finding the right person to take their place in providing care can be difficult. Carers often feel guilty about taken a break, or simply don’t know where to start.

Respite services help carers to take a break from their caring role by providing a worker or volunteer to take over for a specified period of time. This could be for a few hours, a few days or a few weeks. Respite services can be delivered one-to-one in the home, or in a group setting in the community or a residential facility.

Respite services can vary in cost from free to completely privately funded, and many are partially government funded with a fee or contribution payable by the person being cared for or the carer. If respite services are not available, family members, friends and neighbours can often provide care temporarily to give carers a break.

Ideas for taking a break

Taking a break may look different in every caring relationship, and depends on the needs and preferences of the carer and the person they care for. Some common examples are listed below.

  • A paid support worker takes the person you care for to an activity or event that they enjoy
  • A family member comes over to supervise the person you care for and help out around the house while the carer goes out
  • The person in need of care stays overnight in an aged care facility or other supported accommodation
  • The person in need of care spends a few hours in a community centre participating in leisure or learning activities
  • The carer is supported by a worker or volunteer to do an enjoyable activity with the person they care for and other family members in the community

Who can help you to take a break

In an emergency situation

Your service providers:

If the person you care for is already accessing aged care or disability services, they should have someone you can contact if your circumstances suddenly change.

Carer Gateway - 1800 422 737 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week): Speak to the Carer Gateway service provider in your region about accessing Emergency Respite Care services if you are suddenly unable to provide care, for example if you are ill or injured.

Planning ahead for a break

Your service providers:

If the person you care for is already accessing aged care or disability services, ask their service provider whether it is possible to arrange some breaks from the caring role, while the person you care for also does something meaningful and enjoyable.

My Aged Care - 1800 422 737 (Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 8.00pm, and Saturday, 8.00am to 2.00pm): If you care for an older person who is not already accessing services, or the services they are accessing do not enable you to take a break from caring, you may need to contact My Aged Care to request a new assessment or increased support.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) - 1800 800 110 (Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 8.00pm): If you care for a person with disability who is not already accessing services, they may be eligible to receive services and supports through the NDIS that will enable you to take a break.

Carer Gateway - 1800 422 737 (Monday to Friday): You can speak to the Carer Gateway service provider in your region about arranging planned respite services or other activities for you and/or the person you care for that will help you take a break.

When you can’t get the services you need

Carers NSW understands that many carers would like regular breaks from their caring role, but are not able to find the time, support or resources.

If you have tried to access respite services but been unable to get what you need, you may be able to appeal this decision or make a complaint.