Carers Australia has called on the Government to increase subsidies for respite care in residential aged care facilities so that family and friends can take a break from caring when required.
The peak national body released its report into access to respite care compiled from a survey of 112 Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres (CRCCs).
The report found that carers were finding it increasingly difficult to access respite care when they needed a break from the demands of providing around-the-clock help.
“Daily subsidies paid to residential aged care providers by the Government are much higher for permanent residents and for residents convalescing after an illness or operation than for respite care, so there is a disincentive to make short-term stays available for respite care,” said Carers Australia Chief Executive Ara Cresswell.
“The difference is even sharper for people with high-care needs, including people with advanced dementia.
“As well as higher subsidies to encourage aged care providers to offer respite, our research indicates a high, unfulfilled demand for overnight and weekend respite, particularly in cottage-style accommodation.
“Cottage-style respite is ideal because it offers home?like surroundings and can feel more like a holiday for the person with care needs,” said Ms Cresswell.
Across Australia, 74 per cent of respondents reported high or very high demand for emergency respite, while the level of high demand for pre-planned respite accommodation was 88 per cent.
Nearly 70 per cent of respondents reported that both emergency and pre-planned respite were difficult or very difficult to access.
Despite undertaking often exhaustive efforts to identify respite opportunities, 35 per cent of respondents said they were only able to find respite beds some of the time.
“Caring for the aged can be an exhausting, time-consuming, and emotionally wearing task – especially for those carers who are aged themselves,” said Ms Cresswell.
“For many the opportunity to take a break is vital to their ability to continue providing care at home. They will also need to find replacement care for the person they care for if they become ill themselves or have other demands which need attention and take them away from home.
“If a carer needs to be away for more than a night or two, respite accommodation for those they care for in an aged residential care facility is often their only option.
View the Carers Australia report.
What do you think? Should the Government increase subsidies for respite care to ease the burden on carers?