NDIS Respite Care/Short Term Accommodation Guide

If you participate in a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan, you may have questions about how to qualify for respite care. This is one of the more confusing aspects of the NDIS program because there is no specific provision for respite services.

However, plan participants can take advantage of some other widely used benefits to ensure that planned or last-minute breaks in care are covered.

Take a look at how NDIS respite arrangements work to know if and how this all fits into your plan.

What is Respite Care?

Respite care is actually a general term for any type of planned or last-minute care provided in place of the typical caregiver’s services.

The easiest way to think of respite care is to look at it as a short “break” from the traditional care plan to allow a caregiver to take leave.

The leave can be for an emergency, a vacation, a “mental” break or some type of logistical consideration. Respite can also benefit the participant by offering a change of pace, more independence or access to new experiences.

The core goal of respite is to ensure continued quality care for the adult or child requiring care without any lapses. However, “time away” can actually be covered on a regular basis through NDIS if a participant’s goals are focused on obtaining more independence.

In fact, short-term accommodations for routine overnight stays away from home are quite common for young adults who have oriented their NDIS plans toward relying less on their parents.

What Does Respite Care Involve?

Each plan for arranging respite can be different because the circumstances of why respite is being used vary. However, the general process allows the caregiver in the scenario to organize temporary care while they are away or unable to provide care.

Typically, the easiest way to arrange respite care is simply to ask responsible, involved friends or family members to take over. This is often the preferred route if it is possible because it allows for the smallest level of disruption.

It also allows you to preserve NDIS funds for other services. Relying on friends or family also allows the person in need of care to stay in the comfort of home while keeping the same schedule.

However, this scenario won’t work in every case. Some form of government-supported respite care can also be arranged for NDIS participants.

The NDIS primarily provides this type of support via care homes during the respite period. However, in-home care and host families are also used.

Is Respite Care Covered Under NDIS?

This is where we hit a bit of a grey area. “Respite” isn’t actually a service that is funded through NDIS. However, respite can be facilitated using your NDIS funds.

Short Term Accommodation (STA) funding is the most direct way to make this happen. Under STA funding guidelines, plan participants can arrange for funding to be allocated to the “Assistance With Daily Living” category.

Here’s a look at various respite options:

  • Overnight/short-term respite at a facility or center.
  • Stints with host families.
  • In-home overnight care.

Using STA funding to have respite covered, a plan participant could allocate funding for short-term accommodations if they qualify for enough funding.

While staying at a short-term accommodation, NDIS participants are provided with the levels of care and support they need based on their existing assessments. Plan approval is needed.

How Much Respite Care Does NDIS Provide?

The amount of time a plan participant receives for “respite care” varies by plan. There is no minimum allotment for any form of respite care within the NDIS plan standards.

For instance, a young adult in need of mid-level support may be eligible for a weekend of short-term accommodations once per month as a way to foster independence from parents who serve as full-time caregivers.

A high-needs participant who is cared for by a spouse on a full-time basis may be able to arrange for up to 30 days per year of accommodations away from home that serve as respite care.

Ultimately, more funding can be placed in an NDIS plan if a participant’s needs justify the need for more breaks throughout the year. The NDIS pricing guide allows for various price maximums for different levels of short-term and overnight care.

How Do You Add STA Respite Care to Your NDIS Plan?

You will need to arrange to have core funding allocated to STA care if you wish to create room for respite care within your NDIS plan. Generally, this is something that you will need to address in your planning meeting if you’re enrolling in NDIS for the first time.

If you’re currently an NDIS participant, you can discuss updating your STA funding in your plan-review meeting.

It’s a good idea to have some pointers ready when you speak with your plan manager. Generally, the NDIS will be interested to know why you require STA funding.

Here are the core things to have prepared:

  • Be able to demonstrate and explain how much support you need daily.
  • Highlight how much support your caregiver is delivering on a daily basis.
  • Discuss the impact that this level of care is having on both you and the caregiver. This is an opportunity to communicate why it’s in your best interest to have some time away from your caregiver in order to give you both some breathing room for relaxation and well-being.
  • Try to articulate how STA would benefit you both.
  • Bring along any letters or supporting documents from therapists, doctors, psychologists or other specialists that back up your assessment.

As an NDIS participant, you are within your rights to request that core funding be allocated for what amounts to respite care. The goal is to come across as simply making a reasonable request based on the reality of the situation.

Generally, the NDIS does view caregiver burnout as a valid justification for increasing STA.

Finding NDIS Respite Options

Once you are approved for STA benefits, the NDIS gives you a lot of freedom for finding an option that works for you. That means it’s time to do your research!

When searching for a respite provider, you will encounter many different options. NDIS participants utilize STA funding at everything from small residences to large, fully staffed facilities.

Your specific care needs, plan goals and personal preferences will help to determine which option is an appropriate fit. You may be able to lean on your support coordinator for guidance in finding a home or facility that is ideal.

Final Thoughts on NDIS and Respite Allowances

The easiest way to get respite in your NDIS program is to ask. While NDIS doesn’t formally provide “respite” as we know it, there are options for short-term accommodations that essentially fulfill the same need.

Keep in mind that the NDIS’s view on whether or not you require STA funding will mostly link back to your specific plan goals. If time away from your primary caregiver aligns with your goals, the idea of receiving STA allocations becomes more realistic.

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