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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Respite care for older people

Tautiaki tānga manawa mō ngā pēperekōu

Respite care is short-term care provided in an aged care facility. It's usually to give the person caring for you a break. In some circumstances, you can use it to have a break if you live alone and cannot manage at home for a short time.

Respite care can have positive benefits as it gives you a break from your usual environment. It may recharge your batteries and enable you to stay in your home for longer, rather than having to go into long-term care. Respite care can also have positive benefits for your carer.

There are different levels of respite care depending on what you need, such as a rest home, hospital-level care, dementia care and a specialist hospital.

If you're eligible for respite, you'll be allocated a certain number of respite care days. These will be between a few days to 28 days each year.

You will not have to pay the aged care facility for your respite care. You'll need to bring all your medications, continence products and medical equipment with you. If you need to see your doctor, you'll need to pay for this consultation as usual.

Eligibility for respite care

You must have a combination of needs to be eligible for respite care. They may include things such as needing support from your carer to manage at night, supervision with getting around your home, needing to be reminded to carry out the day-to-day tasks, and needing significant help with toileting.

To receive funded respite care, you need to be assessed by a health professional from Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand Waitaha Canterbury's Older Persons' Health and Rehabilitation Team. Speak to your general practice team about arranging an assessment for you.

A health professional will assess you and will:

Using planned respite care days

You'll be able to choose to stay at an aged care facility that has a contract with Te Whatu Ora Waitaha to provide respite care. Aged care facilities are happy for you to visit and have a look around to see if you think it will be suitable for you.

You may wish to divide your allocated respite days into short breaks, or you may wish to use it all in one stay. Try to book respite care well in advance of when you want to take it.

Booking respite care

Once your respite has been approved, you, your carer, practice nurse or Community Support can make bookings.

Make sure you have your respite allocation letter ready, as you'll need some of the information on it.

Phone an approved residential care facility to check if they have suitable care available at the time you want it.

Once the facility makes the booking, it will confirm your booking in writing. If your chosen facility doesn't have a vacancy, phone Older Person Health Specialist Service on (03) 337‑7765 and ask for help.

On the next page: Frequently asked questions about respite care for older people

Written by Older Person Health Specialist Service, Te Whatu Ora Waitaha. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2023.


Page reference: 164781

Review key: HIRCO-164781