When you start looking for an aged care facility for a loved one, a lot of people like the idea of “try before you buy”, which often means trying a respite stint at a facility to make sure that it’s a “good fit”.  This is a great idea of course, but beware……

Trying respite in a facility means that you get to have a closer look at the smaller details that aren’t immediately obvious from the glossy brochure.  A placement consultant should be able to tell you a lot of information about a facility before you give it a whirl, but if you have the opportunity and time to try some respite in the facility first, you will find out even more about things that are important if you are looking for somewhere to live longer term.

The government subsidises up to 63 per days per financial year for you to use in respite and during this time, you only have to pay a “gap” amount which is known as the Basic Daily Fee.  Once you have used up your 63 days however, you need to already have a plan.  If you are certain that you will require permanent placement, be very careful not to use up all of the 63 days before you have settled on and been accepted for permanent placement in a facility.

Once your 63 days of respite has been exhausted, it can be very difficult to enter into a new facility, even if you are seeking a permanent placement there.  This is because most facilities like a new admission to have respite days left at the commencement of a stay, so that it gives the facility and the client time to try things out and make sure that you are a “good fit” for one another.

Most facilities will offer respite stays of no less than two weeks and sometimes a minimum stay of four weeks is required.  So, if you have already had several respite stays in a financial year, you need to be planning quite seriously.  If you do find that you have exhausted all of your respite days, but would like to stay in respite for longer, the facility may be able to apply to the government for an extension on your behalf, but if you happen to have already left the facility and exhausted your respite days a new facility will not make this application for you and your care options will be severely limited.

You can, of course, apply for a respite extension yourself via My Aged Care, but the process can be time consuming and may not yield an immediate response, which can cause stress to the individual and for the family caring for them.

So, please remember to keep a tally of your days in respite and start planning early to avoid unnecessary stress or the risk of a hasty admission to permanent care.