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Exploring the concept of respite


  • David Evans PhD RN MNS

    Senior Lecturer, Corresponding author
    • School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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Correspondence to Dr D. Evans:




To report an analysis of the concept of respite for older people.


Respite is an important support strategy for family carers of older people. However, there is considerable confusion in the literature about the nature, scope, and outcomes of respite services.

Data sources

The data source for the concept analysis was a review of literature addressing respite for older people. There were no publication date restrictions for the review and literature was searched up to 2010.


Concept analysis that was informed by the work of Dubin and the operationalization of Dubin's work by Holton and Lowe.

Review method

A review of the literature was undertaken to better understand the nature of respite for older people. The review investigated the views of respite from the perspective of the service provider, family carer, and care-recipient. A conceptual model of respite was developed using a four-step approach: gaining an understanding of the phenomenon; identifying and retrieving relevant studies; analysing the construct; and developing the conceptual model.


The conceptual model that emerged from this process consisted of three attributes, Partnership, Service, and Respite. The attribute of Partnership concerned the relationship between the service provider, carer and care-recipient. The attribute of Service concerned what the provider offered and focused on two important areas, assistance and engagement. The attribute of Respite concerned the outcomes that the family carer and care-recipient gained from respite and focused on freedom, support, and connection.


The conceptual model provides a framework to assist in the development of respite services.