Respite faces an uncertain future in consumer directed care markets in aged care and disability that place the client, not the carer, at the centre of support, the national peak body for respite providers has warned.

Speaking at the Being Home 2025 conference on Monday, Maureen Flynn from the National Respite Association said carers were not considered a target client base for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) in their own right and respite was not explicitly mentioned in the NDIS pricing list or guidelines.

Despite respite having a “dual purpose” to support both the care recipient and the carer, aged and disability reforms overlooked the importance of respite services to the client and CDC systems, Ms Flynn told the Sydney audience.

“In consumer directed care markets, we’re putting consumers in the primary service system not carers at the centre of support, but respite has dual outcomes for both the carer and the care recipient and it aims to meet both consumer goals and goals for the carer. That equals a really big government challenge.”

She said respite as a “dual outcome service type” had been poorly understood by the government and articulated by the sector.

In terms of the new CHSP, which commenced on 1 July, Ms Flynn said there was no structural means of resolving the different needs and goals for carers and care recipients in the program, now that carers were not a target audience for CHSP.

“What if the carer desperately wants respite but the person who is frail from age either doesn’t want respite or doesn’t think that their carer needs respite? If the care recipient is put at the centre of support, how do you find out what the carer wants to remain resilient and to continue in their caring role?”

It was also unclear how innovation in areas such as flexible respite would be encouraged and rewarded in the home support program, she said.

“There is no real discussion from the government’s end about how they will grow flexible respite in the aged care sector and how they will reward innovation,” she told the event hosted by Community Options Australia.

Ms Flynn said there were lessons that could be learned in aged care from other sectors such as from flexible respite packages in disability and reimbursement models. “Innovative respite practices should be grown in CDC markets,” she said.

While there has been a commitment from the National Disability Insurance Agency to restore the language of respite back into the price list and guidelines, little progress has been made to date, said Ms Flynn.

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