Respite services can strengthen a family's ability to care for a family member with a disability and stay together, as a family.
From a carer's perspective, respite might mean:
- a night's uninterrupted sleep once a week
- a weekend break at planned intervals during the year
- a couple of hours during the day to ‘do your own thing'.
Respite may be centre-based, providing a person with disability with daily supports and community activities, or home-based.
If you are the carer of a person who is eligible for specialist disability services, you may be able to access respite support through your local Disability Service Centre.
Otherwise, you may be able to access respite services to support your caring role through the Community Care program.
Non-funded respite suggestions
Demand for respite outweighs availability, so it pays to ‘think outside the square'. Parents of children with disability and community workers supporting families share these ideas:
- Be prepared to ask extended family, neighbours and friends to help spread the caring around. Asking can be the biggest and hardest step.
- Investigate vacation care at your school.
- Nannies-in-training need practical experience. Some nanny schools look for families with ‘special circumstances' such as a child with a disability to place a student for the prac days over a number of months. No money changes hands -this is a learning experience for a student but can give a parent some valuable extra support.
- Australia is gradually embracing the notion of holidays camps. Some are organised and funded specifically for children with disabilities. Sony Foundation is one organisation that provides camp experiences for children with special needs. Kidscamps.com.au is Australia's only online specialised children's camp directory. Its listings include camps specifically for children with disability.