Understanding the use of respite services among informal carers
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Objective: To examine the use of respite services among carers of non-institutionalised individuals aged 15 and over with either profound or severe disabilities. Method: Based on the data collected from the Australian Survey of Disability, Aging 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. Of particular importance was that of family relationships. 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 to 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 individualized needs, it is speculated that carers perceive family members as better able to interpret and meet the sporadic and individualized care demands of recipients. Implications: Given the low usage rate of respite services among primary informal carers, policy makers and health organizations need to dispel the 'one size fits all' approach to support services for households.
Australian Health Review
Copyright 2008 Australasian Medical Publishing Company. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.