New resources improve delivery and navigation of respite services

Two new resources aimed at improving the delivery and navigation of respite services for people living with dementia are now available. 

The new resources, created by Dementia Australia, in partnership with the University of Wollongong and Carers Australia, aim to promote best practice strategies for respite service providers and to assist people with dementia and their carers to navigate the system.

The Dementia Australia Flexible Respite Services for People with Dementia and their Carers resources suggest a new approach to respite care is needed to cater for a growing and diversifying clientele. 
Conny and Bryan Gard of Canberra know the importance of quality, flexible respite care. 

Bryan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago, and attends respite programs aimed at people with younger onset dementia. He attends a day care program for five hours once a week and also attends Greening Australia and The Men’s Shed for two hours each once a week. 

“Bryan enjoys the social interaction, the company of the other people attending and the variety of activities offered,” Mrs Gard said.  

“Respite care gives me a chance to do something on my own that I enjoy, attend errands or just to give me a break from my carer role.

“There has only been one occasion where Bryan did not enjoy respite care and knowing how he felt makes it difficult to send him back to that particular environment. I would feel guilty about leaving him if I knew he would not enjoy his time in respite. This experience demonstrated to me how important it is for respite to be flexible to the needs of those attending.”

Dementia Australia National CEO, Maree McCabe said that given the number of people with dementia is set to increase to 1.1 million by 2056, these resources are essential to ensuring that best practice in respite care is being delivered in the care and support of people with dementia and carers. 

“As both the aged care and disability sectors move to consumer-directed and individualised funding models, it is vital that respite services ensure they are flexible and responsive to the needs of people living with dementia, their families and carers,” Ms McCabe said. 

“It is so important that people living with dementia have access to quality respite services that provide opportunities for social contact as well as physical activity and emotional stimulation. For carers, it is essential they take time to look after themselves and know how to access quality and flexible respite services to do so.

“The resources are a good way to initiate a dialogue with family members about the benefits and options for respite.” 

Project leader of ReThink Respite, Dr Lyn Phillipson from the University of Wollongong said gaining access to flexible respite is really important – but it is often difficult for carers to know what is available and to identify services which can really meet their particular needs and those of the person with dementia. 

“Resources like these will help carers access information to assist them with understanding and navigating the system. The booklet for service providers will also be useful in promoting best practice strategies to better meet the needs of people with dementia and their carers,” she said. 

Flexible Respite Services for People with Dementia and their Carers was developed as part of the Making Flexible Respite Care a Practical Reality project, supported by the Australian Government through an Aged Care Service Improvement and Healthy Ageing Grants Fund.