Respite – for those times when you need a break

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Respite is a break for both you and your child and can be for a few hours or a few days. Respite services can be provided at home, be centre-based respite, or community-based (such as your child attending activities). Respite can be once-off or regularly scheduled.

It can be hard to consider respite and the need to take a break. Caring for others can be stressful and emotionally and physically tiring.  Taking a break gives you a chance to recharge. These respite breaks can allow you to book a yoga class, go shopping uninterrupted, meet up with friends, or go on a holiday. 

Often, respite care is also good for the child! It allows them to engage with new people, make new friends, and continually learn new skills and develop much-needed independence!

About respite care for children with disabilities

Respite care is when someone looks after your child for you.  Respite can be accessed from:

  1. Formal Supports: A respite care service funded through the NDIS
  2. Informal Supports: through your network of family and friends. Who doesn’t appreciate a good babysitter?
  3. Community recreational activities, groups, and camps

Formal respite care services

Many respite services have waiting lists, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead –

  • In-home 
    A carer comes to you for a few hours once a week, for more extended periods, or overnight. The carer might stay at home and look after your child or take them out somewhere like a local park or swimming lessons!
  • Centre-based 
    Your child can go to a centre to be cared for in a group for part of the day to enjoy group activities, outings, and holiday care programs.
  • Community access 
    This kind of respite gets your child involved in activities to develop social skills; this could be a group at a community center, or a support worker might go with you to help you join in with a community activity.
  • Short-term accommodation
    Ask your support coordinator about this option, and they can find something suitable for your particular situation. 

Informal respite care

Don’t forget about informal supports! These are supports that the NDIA may not necessarily fund that are accessible to anyone in your community. These services can often support children with additional needs through the Australian Government Inclusion Support Program. 

  • After-school care
    These services offer fun and inclusive activities for school-age children. Your child’s school might offer them.
  • Recreational activities
    Music classes, storytime at the local library, Scouts, sports clubs, and other community groups can give your child something fun to do. You’ll need to ask whether these activities and organizations accommodate children with additional needs.
  • Camps
    Some government-funded and community organizations run camps specifically for children with additional needs.
  • Mainstream child care
    Daycare centers can get support to include children with additional needs through the Australian Government’s Inclusion Support Program.

Finding respite care

Respite opportunities are to be found through a range of programs:

  • your local council
  • your NDIS support coordinator 
  • a Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre on 1800 052 222 
  • Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737
  • Carers Australia on 1800 242 636.

If you would like help from a support coordinator call Miika on 0421 012 956.