How long can someone stay in respite care? 

Understanding the 63 day allowance |  Going past the respite allowance |  Minimum time to spend in respite care | Types of respite care

Posted 3rd August 2023   |  4 minute read

Written by Jesse Gramenz Reviewed by Julie Dymock

two residents in an aged care home during respite

Most carers have heard of respite care. But how long can someone stay in respite? Here's everything you need to know about the length of a respite stay whether it be in aged care, at home or in the community. 

According to the Australian Government's guidelines, you can access up to 63 days of subsidised respite care in a financial year. However, the specific length of stay in respite will depend on various factors like recovery progress, personal care needs, and the availability of long-term care solutions. 

In Australia, an average respite stay is approximately 3 weeks. 


The bottom line: The duration of respite care stays can vary depending on your situation and the types of respite you want to access. 

Understanding the 63 days of subsidised respite care 

In Australia, the government provides a subsidy for up to 63 days of respite care per financial year. This means that families can place their loved ones in a safe, supportive environment, like St Vincent’s, for a period of time while they attend to other commitments, rejuvenate, or take a break.  


This not only ensures the ongoing quality care for the elderly individual but also supports the mental and emotional wellbeing of the family members. 

What happens if I go past 63 days? 


  • If additional days aren’t granted, care beyond the 63 days may be privately funded 

  • The difference in private funding could mean paying as little as $60 a day in respite to over $200 a day in respite (depending on the provider). 

  • If you’re exceeding 63 days of respite, you may want to consider care options in the longer term such as home care and residential respite care 


Always consult with your respite care provider to explore all available options and ensure continued, uninterrupted care. 

The ‘minimum amount of time to spend in respite 


Residential respite care: Some providers will offer respite for minimum of two weeks but this depends entirely on the provider. This minimum is in place so that you can have a full and proper time to relax, rejuvenate and make the most of what the home has to offer. 


In-home care or community respite: Respite can be for as little as a few hours or overnight either in your own home, or at a cottage or community centre setting. 



Types of respite care and how long you would use them for

There are several types of respite care, each offering unique benefits and catering to different needs and circumstances, each of which will affect the location and length of stay for respite care.


Residential Respite Care: Residential respite refers to a temporary stay in a nursing home or aged care facility, usually for two or more weeks. This is the best option if continuous support is required for most daily tasks. Along with a room and hotel-type services such as meals, laundry, and social activities, you will also receive personal and medical care. 


It's an excellent choice for post-surgery recovery or when the primary caregiver is sickon holiday, or just needs a break. This can take the form of transition care which provides support following a hospital stay, assisting in recovery and regaining independence sooner. 


In-Home Respite Care: With this option, a trained care worker comes to the person's home and provides care for a few hours. This is a great solution for carers who need a break but wish for their loved one to remain in the comfort of their own home. 


Community Respite Care: This involves care in a community setting, such as a day centre or club, where the individual can interact with others while their carer takes a break. Community respite is provided under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), subject to eligibility criteria. Community respite is available during the day, overnight or for the weekend, aimed at those who need occasional support to manage some of their daily tasks and activities. 


Remember, the length of a respite stay is flexible and can vary between different types of care. It's all about finding the solution that best meets your unique needs and circumstances. 


Parting thoughts 

From a few hours to a few weeks of respite, there are options available to help suit what you need (and for how long). The key to getting started is to reach out to My Aged Care and apply for an ACAT assessment.  


By knowing the level of care you or your loved one needs, you can go with confidence to find the right type of respite care for you. 

Find respite care with St Vincent's

St Vincent's offers respite care across major cities and areas including BrisbaneGold CoastSunshine CoastToowoombaTownsvilleSydneyMelbourne.

From respite services in our aged care homes to respite support in your home, we can support you when you need a break as a caregiver.

aged care staff with residents on balcony


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 a