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Keywords:

  • ageing;
  • caregiver;
  • health care;
  • psychology and other disciplines;
  • respite;
  • social issues

Australian health professional bodies promote the use of respite to ease carer burden, following well-established findings that carers often face physical, mental, social, and financial strain while providing informal care. This narrative review examined the use and impacts of respite for older clients, with a particular focus on Australian research and on dementia respite. It was found that despite reports of high satisfaction from caregivers with respite use, barriers, such as caregiver concerns for the well-being and safety of the care recipient during respite, limited flexibility for short-notice respite booking, and low provision of support and education post respite, impacted on the accessibility and efficacy of respite care. It was concluded that respite care needs to move away from a custodial model to a more psychological model of care, and that more natural and flexible models (e.g., host family respite), integrated with increased post-respite support and psychosocial education, are likely to be beneficial and need further evaluation.