Respite care fees in Australia
Posted 3rd August 2023 | Reviewed by Julie Dymock MBA-HM & Michelle Mitri | 6 minute read
Costs in aged care can get complicated. Let's work out how much you can expect to pay for respite care whether that's in an aged care home, in your own home, or out in the community.
Residential respite costs and fees
What is residential respite?
Residential respite care is a type of support service that gives a temporary break to families or caregivers who are looking after an elderly person. This type of respite takes place in an aged care home.
The duration of residential respite can vary depending on the needs of the caregiver and the availability of services, but a residential respite stay is usually in the range of 2 – 6 weeks with an average respite stay in Australia being 3 weeks.
The types of fees in residential respite
In total, there are 2 main types of fees you might come across when it comes to residential respite:
Residential Respite Fees everyone pays
Residential Respite Fees you might also pay
Basic Daily Care Fee
Additional Services Fee
- Basic Daily Care Fee
This fee helps pay for your day-to-day services such as meals, cleaning, facilities management, and laundry.
It also pays for items such as:
- Main meals as well as morning and afternoon tea
24/7 nursing care
Private room with ensuite
In house activities from lifestyle teams
Group physiotherapy activities
The Basic Daily Care Fee is calculated at 85% of the single person rate of the basic age pension. To claim this, you’ll need to get an ACAT assessment from My Aged Care.
2. Additional/Extra Services Fee
This fee typically refers to costs associated with optional, non-clinical services that go beyond the standard care level provided. These could include services like:
More diverse meal choices, or special dietary options.
Extra allied health options (e.g. Personal physio visits)
Access to pay TV, internet, or newspapers.
Special outings, entertainment, or social activities.
Enhanced room features, like private rooms or enhanced furnishings.
Personal services like hairdressing, beauty therapy, or alternative therapies.
Any other comfort and lifestyle enhancements not covered in the basic fee.
An example of fees in a residential respite stay
Glenda’s recovery in residential respite
Take Glenda for example. Glenda has just had a knee replacement. Her daughter Jodie can’t care for her properly at home while Glenda is on the mend for her knee, because needs a high level of support.
Here’s what a near three week stay in residential respite might look like for Glenda:
Basic Daily Care Fee
Extra Services Fee (e.g., Special meals, Wi-Fi, Higher-quality linens)
The maximum basic daily fee for all aged care residents is 85% of the single basic Aged Pension daily payment. The example amounts in this table are for illustrative purposes only*
6 tips for saving yourself money, time and stress with Residential Respite Care
- Save hundreds of dollars by getting an ACAT assessment for residential respite. For example, respite care at St Vincent’s without an ACAT is $350 a day as opposed to $60.86*.
If you’re looking to transition to aged care from respite, using 4 weeks of respite care can be a great opportunity to sort out any paperwork and help your loved one get settled.
Try before you buy. Using your respite days can be a great chance to save yourself money and hassle by settling in and seeing if the aged care home is right for you.
Book respite well in advance and check that the provider has a bookable respite room (not all do).
Pay for your residential respite with a Home Care Package (if you have one). Even if you’re about to move into aged care, you can still use your remaining Home Care Package money to pay for the transition.
If you are getting an ACAT and are thinking of moving into aged care permanently after respite, make sure you tell you Aged Care Assessment Team so they can assess you properly for that.
Get started with residential respite
To get started with residential respite, go to the My Aged Care website and apply for an ACAT assessment to make sure you’re getting the proper care and support you need.
In-home respite and community costs & fees
What is in-home respite care?
In-home respite care is a service that allows a caregiver temporary relief from their caregiving duties, while ensuring that the person who requires care can still remain in the comfort of their own home.
The specific services provided by in-home respite care can vary, but often include:
Personal care: such as help with bathing, dressing, toileting, and eating.
Household chores: help with cleaning, laundry, shopping, and meal preparation.
Companionship: providing company, conversation, and emotional support.
Medication management: ensuring medication is taken at the right times.
Mobility assistance: help with moving around the home, getting in and out of bed, etc.
Nursing care: in some cases, a registered nurse may provide medical care, such as wound care, injections, or other treatments.
What is community respite care?
Community respite care is like residential and in-home respite care because they give carers a break from their duties as a carer. The main changes with community respite care is where the respite takes place and the amount of time you can use the respite for.
Two good examples of community respite are:
Overnight stay in a cottage-style setting
A few hours up to a day in a respite care centre, day centre, or even an aged care home where meals and activities are provided
What fees will I need to pay for in-home & community respite?
Each provider of in-home & community respite will have different fees and charges. It’s important you look around for the provider that best suits you and your budget.
However, costs for respite at home and in the community can be subsidized for you by a program called the Commonwealth Home Support Program or ‘CHSP’ for short.
What is the Commonwealth Home Support Program?
According to the My Aged Care website, “The Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) helps older Australians access entry-level support services to live independently and safely at home.”
To take advantage of CHSP, you’ll need to apply for support through My Aged Care
The important part to note about respite with CHSP is that it is ‘entry level’. For more complex and ongoing care needs you can apply for a Home Care Package.
Examples of fees for in-home respite with CHSP
Greg’s day of respite care
Take Greg for example. He’s fairly independent, but while his carer and daughter Jodie is away on a school trip with the kids, Greg needs a bit of help around the house and needs transport to and from the shops for the day.
Here’s what the cost of a respite day at home might look like for Greg:
Transport - up to 15 km
Total for a Respite Day
An example day of out-of-pocket CHSP respite costs (after subsidies) for an elderly person receiving respite care
Aged costs are complicated, and respite can be no different. However, the most important first step you can take is to get an ACAT assessment done.
By taking this process one step at a time, you can be just a little bit closer to feeling confident and prepared for whenever you need a break as a carer without stressing the financials.
Related respite content
How long can someone stay in respite care?
How to have the best post-surgery recovery you can (with respite care)
What happens when a carer reaches their limit?
Still not sure where to start?
St Vincent’s has a dedicated contact centre team that can help put you in the right direction with getting started with respite including:
Helping you navigate My Aged Care
Giving you clarity on the next steps you need to take to get the break you need (and deserve)
Talking through your options for care and putting you in touch with the aged care and home care experts who work with other people who have gone through the exact same thing you ar