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HealthInfo Aoraki-South Canterbury

Respite care for older people

Respite care is short-term care provided in a residential care home. It is 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.

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 care, dementia care, and specialist hospital.

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

You won't have to pay the rest home for your respite care. You will need to bring all your medications, incontinence products and medical equipment with you. If you need to see your doctor, then you will need to pay for this consultation as usual.

Eligibility for respite care

A combination of needs are required to be eligible for respite care. They include 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 of life, and needing significant help with toileting.

To receive publicly funded respite care, you need to be assessed by a member of South Canterbury DHB's Needs Assessment Service Coordination (NASC). Speak to your GP or practice nurse about arranging an assessment for you.

A health professional will assess you and will:

Using planned respite care days

You will be able to choose to stay at a respite care facility that has a contract with South Canterbury DHB to provide respite care. Rest homes are happy for you to visit and have a look at their facility to see if you will enjoy staying there.

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 the days when you want to take it.

Booking respite care

Eldernet has comprehensive information about residential care facilities that may help you make informed decisions.

To book your respite care, phone (03) 687‑7114 or email NASC.

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

NASC will confirm your booking. They'll also tell you how much respite you've been allocated and how much you've used.

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

Written by Older Person Health Specialist Service, Canterbury DHB. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2019.

Page reference: 243682

Review key: HIRCO-164781