Research shows that 40 percent of older people in Australia need assistance with at least one activity, and most of that assistance is provided by informal carers rather than formal providers. While it's great that so many older Australians have loved ones and friends who are happy to step in and provide the assistance they need, there could be times when such help isn't available. It could be that the informal provider has injured themselves and can't get around for a few weeks, or they could simply want to take a holiday.
At times when informal care falls through, it's nice to have a respite care service available. This simply involves providing planned or emergency temporary care from a professional to supplement informal efforts. You can either arrange respite care at home or go to a residential facility for a few days or weeks.
Both aged care options have their own benefits and drawbacks, but here are just a few reasons you might like to consider domiciliary respite care instead of sending your loved one to a home.
1. Sense of Independence
Research also shows that only 5 percent of older Australians live in care homes, and one of the main reasons why is that people like to maintain a sense of independence. Even if they need occasional help from a formal or informal carer, older people can still enjoy their own independence when they're in their own home, whether that means choosing to eat at a certain time or deciding what to watch on television. At a residential care facility, they'll usually need to follow a set schedule.
2. Less Stressful
Another reason older people like staying put is being able to stay in familiar surroundings. Moving your loved one to a residential facility can be stressful since they're suddenly away from everything they know. They'll be somewhere strange and around new people. This can be particularly problematic for older people who have started to show signs of cognitive decline, but even perfectly cogent people can find the stress of moving around quite tough to deal with, and you might find it hard to bring along everything they need to feel safe and secure.
3. Added Flexibility
Sometimes respite care is necessary when informal carers need to take a longer break. However, you might simply need to arrange respite care over a day or two, or even have someone come in for a couple of hours when you can't make it. Moving an older loved one to a residential facility for such a short length of time creates a lot of stress without much reason, so domiciliary care is generally seen as a little more flexible.
4. More Affordable
Since domiciliary care is so flexible, you only need to pay for the care that's needed. In contrast, residential home care is more cut and dry. Residents are charged for being in or out, which can often mean paying more than you need to when constant care is not required. As such, domiciliary respite care generally works out cheaper than residential respite care.
5. Faster Emergency Coverage
Most of the time, respite care will be planned. Unfortunately, circumstance may sometimes force your hand at the last minute. For example, an informal carer might break their leg and be unable to provide the normal level of assistance, or they could be stuck working different shifts for a few days. If you need quick coverage in an unexpected situation, domiciliary care is great since someone can be sent out quickly. If you've already arranged domiciliary care in the past, you might even be able to get the same person your older loved one is used to.