Respite is an important strategy for supporting family carers and care recipients. However, it is a complex intervention and the term ‘respite’ is often used as a generic descriptor for a diverse service. The aim of this study was to explore the characteristics of respite services for older people in South Australia. A 32 item questionnaire that was developed from the literature was distributed to coordinators of respite services for older people. The findings show that respite is most often a pre-planned service offered to clients for a week or more. It encompasses many different types; the most common was residential care facility overnight respite. Although there is flexibility in the service, there is a scope to increase the choices that are available to carers and care recipients.