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21 August 2020

Respite care and the NDIS: Everything you need to know.

Here at Leap in! we are often asked if the NDIS covers respite care. The answer is yes!

There is a lot of confusion around how the NDIS works when it comes to respite care.

However, respite care can be included in an NDIS Plan where it is considered a “reasonable and necessary” support.

What is respite care?

Respite care allows for both a person with a disability and their carer to have a break or a change of scenery. It is the alternative care that is put in place while a usual care giver is unavailable.

Respite can be provided through:

  • Informal care from friends or family (not funded by the NDIS)
  • Formal care through paid in home services or centre-based services (funded by the NDIS).

Short-term accommodation and assistance (inc. respite).

The NDIS views looking after family, carers and support networks as an important part of the overall care of a person with a disability. Respite care can contribute to the health and wellbeing of everyone involved.

You may have heard the term “Short term accommodation (STA) and assistance” used in relation to the NDIS. This is a broad description covering various types of short-term accommodation supports which also includes respite care.

Previously, line items in the NDIS Price Guide were missing the all-important term “respite”. Changes were made in late 2019 to clear up the confusion and respite was added to the existing descriptions.

Look for STA and Assistance (Inc. Respite) in the NDIS Support Catalogue and provider portal.

These line items cover temporary accommodation supports.

How does respite care under the NDIS work?

Respite care is designed to support ongoing caring arrangements between participants and their unpaid carers.

It’s an opportunity for the participant to get support from someone else while their carer takes a break from caring responsibilities or a holiday.

Respite care is generally funded for up to 14 days at a time. Longer-term arrangements require a different type of NDIS funding (Medium Term Accommodation or Supported Independent Living).

Funding for STA and Assistance (Inc. Respite) appears under Core supports – Assistance with Daily Life in your NDIS Plan. If you have this budget, then you can choose to use some of these funds to purchase respite.

Respite and the NDIS

What does respite care cover?

All basic expenses in a 24-hour period related to providing the service including:

  • Short-term accommodation in a suitable facility
  • Assistance with self-care or community access activities
  • Overnight support
  • Food
  • Negotiated activities.

How much does respite care cost?

The NDIS Price Guide sets out maximum prices based on the day of week as well as the ratio of staff to participants.

  • There are different rates for weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays as well as public holidays
  • The price covers all of the costs mentioned above
  • Price limits vary for remote and very remote regions.

As respite arrangements vary greatly it’s important to negotiate a price based on length of stay, level of support needed and how inclusive the service is (i.e meals and activities).

Respite for shorter periods of time.

If the respite care required is for less than 24 hours, it may be possible to negotiate a reduced rate with the provider.

Examples include:

  • Dusk to dawn respite care
  • When the usual carer needs support for a few hours during the day that is not covered by other NDIS supports such as community participation.

These short period respite arrangements will typically be charged as an hourly fee and subject to the maximum hourly rates set by the NDIA for in home and out of home assistance.

How to get respite care in your NDIS Plan.

Like other supports under the NDIS, respite must be considered “reasonable and necessary” to be included in your NDIS Plan. The NDIS will also take into account the amount of support provided by family or informal carers.

Being well prepared for your NDIS Plan or Plan Review meeting will help ensure you get funding to cover all the supports you need.

Things to think about:

  • Are there regular times when an informal carer is unavailable? If so, document these including the length of time and regularity.
  • Does the carer have any holidays or breaks planned in the foreseeable future?
  • Whether respite care can be used to help look after the long-term wellbeing of any family members or carers.
  • How respite care might help you achieve your goals (such as trying out what it is like to live with other people as you develop your independence).

Where to find a respite care provider.

The Leap in! Provider Network Directory lists hundreds of NDIS providers, including those that offer respite care.

Visit the Provider Network Directory and filter Service types by “Respite” for a list of respite providers.

We are here to help.

We understand that you may have a few more questions and that’s where we can really help. Our experienced plan managers can help make your whole NDIS journey easier. Please give us a call on 1300 05 78 78,  contact us via our website (online chat available) or email

Initially published 1 February 2020, updated 20 August 2020.


Further reading

Core Supports budget: A closer look.

What is Supported Independent Living? Plus how to get your free SIL ebook.

Caring for yourself when you care for someone with a disability.