JOURNAL ARTICLE

Understanding the use of respite services among informal carers

Nerina Vecchio
Australian Health Review: a Publication of the Australian Hospital Association 2008, 32 (3): 459-67
18666873

OBJECTIVE: To examine the use of respite services among carers of non-institutionalised individuals aged 15 and over with either profound or severe disabilities.

METHODS: Based on data collected from the Australian Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers in 2003, the investigation evaluated the statistical significance of a number of carer and recipient characteristics on the likelihood of the use of respite services. Further analysis assisted in identifying the support most desired by the majority of carers (88.6%, n = 243 690) who have never used respite.

RESULTS: The results revealed that social and cultural factors played a critical role in the receipt of respite services. Family relationships were important. Just under one-fifth of all primary carers most preferred more financial assistance in their role as caregiver. After controlling for confounding variables it was found that, compared with other forms of assistance, the desire for an improvement in the primary carers' own health was more likely among non-respite users. This may reflect the carers' preference to improve their own capacity to service the recipient rather than rely on others outside the household.

CONCLUSIONS: Since the recipients under investigation typically possess core communication restrictions and highly individualised needs, it is speculated that carers perceive family members as better able to interpret and meet the sporadic and individualised care demands of recipients.

IMPLICATIONS: Given the low usage of respite services among primary informal carers, policy makers and health organisations need to dispel the "one size fits all" approach to support services for households.

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