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.
Other funded respite services
- Community Care program may provide in-home or centre-based respite.
- Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres help carers get information, respite care and other support appropriate for their needs.
- Early childhood services may provide flexible child care options through in-home and out-of-home care.
- Outside School Hours Care for Teenagers with Disability is an Australian Government initiative providing outside school hours care to students aged 12 to 18 years with a permanent or significant disability. Ask at school if a program is available in your area.
- Time for Grandparents program provides children being raised by their grandparents with fun and interesting activities while giving grandparents a break.
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.
- Investigate holiday camps. Some are organised and funded specifically for children with disabilities.