Recognising the need for a respite service which provides real support and reassurance for carers of people with dementia, Brotherhood of St Laurence Aged Services devised the Short Break Stay program at the Banksia Community Respite Centre. There is clear evidence that the program, which provides a three-day stay for people with advanced dementia in a homelike living space staffed by experienced personnel, has been a resounding success even beyond what was anticipated by the managers, providers and carers who developed and delivered the program.
This preliminary evaluation suggests that the Short Break Stay Program is highly successful in meeting the respite needs of carers and the high care needs of their care recipients. Carers have given the program whole- hearted endorsement for a range of reasons.
• The Short Break Stay program offers an innovative dementia-specific, respite care service enabling a three-day break for carers which is long enough for them to receive some tangible respite from their caring role but short enough to avoid unduly disrupting the care routines already established at home unlike the standard fortnight in residential aged care facilities.
• The program staffing ratio of 2:6 and the person- centred care approach enable close attention to each individual.
• Carers valued highly the availability of staff to spend time with them to learn about their care recipient’s preferences and needs, as well as the regular communication provided during the client’s stay.
• Carers appreciated the careful matching of clients with staff as well as with other clients to ensure
some commonality among the clients taking a short break at any particular time.
• Carers appreciated the efforts made to replicate the care that clients received at home and, especially, the attention paid to transitions into the Banksia Centre and back home, which for people with dementia or cognitive impairment can often cause great anxiety and distress.
• The Banksia Centre offers clients and carers a smooth and seamless transition between day and short-break respite.
• Carers were confident that the Short Break Stay program included access to specialist services if required.