Evaluation of the Australian Commonwealth Respite Care Program: A case study from Western Australia and the Australian Red Cross
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of International, Cultural and Community Studies
Respite care programs for informal or family carers are becoming increasingly important in developed countries. Over the past 25 years, as the reality of the burden of caring for a family member or friend with severe illness or disability has been systematically documented, many Western governments have responded. Indeed, many have legislated respite to ensure that those who care (carers) for others at home or in non-institutional settings are provided some respite from the daily stresses of their caring role. Respite care in Australia has been formalised through legislation and program funding provided to service providers since 1997. The Australian Red Cross is a major provider of respite care in the state of Western Australia and the following research is the result of an evaluation of the Commonwealth Respite Care Program sponsored by the Australian Red Cross in Western Australia. Researchers from Edith Cowan University conducted an evaluation of the program in 2003/04. This research is the first of its kind in Australia and the first evaluation of programs related to the Australian Government's Respite Care Policy (or National Respite Care Program). The research finds overwhelmingly high ‘satisfaction levels’ among carers who had received respite care and identified a number of key issues relevant to any researchers attempting to conduct evaluation research in human service arenas. The paper also provides demographic insights into carers' characteristics' in developed countries.