10 Questions to Ask Your Respite Provider 

In this blog, we explore ten critical questions to ask your NDIS provider before you start your first respite or short-term accommodation experience. These questions are key to ensuring your respite care or short-term stay is as effective and comfortable as possible. 


  1. Qualifications: What qualifications and training do your support workers possess? 


Ensuring that the staff for your respite are well-trained is crucial. While there are no strict qualification requirements for working in the disability industry (at present), essential credentials like a valid NDIS Worker Screening Check, First Aid, and a Working With Children’s Check are necessary. It’s also beneficial to ask about any specific training they’ve received within their organisation, this will help you get a gauge of what your support might look like and to ensure you are receiving support from staff who are adequately trained. 


  1. Experience: How long have you been providing respite services, and can you share any success stories or testimonials?


Testimonials are great – you can hear directly from other people and ensure that the service you are about to receive is what is advertised. Keep an eye out for video testimonials or anything that is going to show social proof. It’s also important to understand the provider’s experience in the field, whether they are new or have a long history of delivering high-quality care.


  1. Availability: What is your availability, and how flexible are you with scheduling?


Understanding the provider’s ability to meet your scheduling needs for respite or short-term accommodation is essential. Enquire about staff availability on different days, times for handovers, and arrangements for overnight stays. Remember, this is your respite, and it needs to be based on your needs and scheduled accordingly.


  1. Occupancy: Will there be other individuals staying at the same time, and if so, how many, and what are their general needs?


Knowing whether you’ll be sharing the house during your respite or short-term accommodation and with whom is important for a comfortable stay. If you prefer individualised care or are open to socialising, this should be discussed in the initial meeting.


Handy hint: You also want to ensure that how you are charged for the respite is reflected accordingly in the service agreement and based on how many people will be staying in the respite house. 


  1. Specialised care: Can you cater to specific medical or behavioural needs, such as administering medications or managing certain behaviours?


If you or the person you are supporting has specific support needs, you want to make sure that the respite provider is set up to provide these supports. You want to make sure that the staff are appropriately trained and that they have supported individuals with these needs before. 


Not only would being provided with respite support by un-trained and unqualified staff make for a horrible experience it would also be a huge safety risk! So, always ensure that you share as much about your support needs as possible during the initial meeting! 


  1. House details: Is it wheelchair accessible and equipped for specific needs?


If you have accessibility requirements, confirm that the respite house is fully accessible and equipped with necessary amenities like accessible showers and railings.


  1. Activities: What types of activities or programs do you offer during the respite stay, and can these be tailored to individual interests or goals?


What are getting up to during your respite? Is it a short break from your regular carers? Do you have big, ambitious goals you want to work toward during your respite? Make sure these are all fleshed out at the beginning of the initial meeting. Remember, it is your respite tailored to your needs. 


Maybe you don’t have anything specific planned, and that’s fine too – but at the same time, you want to ensure that you or the person you are supporting isn’t going to be bored for three days during their respite stay – make sure it’s going to be an enjoyable experience! 


  1. Cost: What are your rates, and are there any additional costs not covered by the NDIS that I should be aware of?


Now, this one is super important. With all NDIS funding, you want to make sure you can get the most support, and having an understanding of how much the respite support is going to cost and what you will be charged for is important. 


Remember, some providers will bill differently for their respite. 


For example, some providers will charge respite in 24-hour blocks as per the price guide, and others may do less. The price guide (last time we checked) was quite vague in explaining this. So, it’s always good to see how you are being charged. What is the daily rate? Is it in line with the price guide, or is it below? Are there any out-of-pocket costs? 


What about events, activities and food? Check to see if you are expected to pay for these.


Travel is a bit of a grey area. Is it covered, or is it not? How many kilomtres can we travel during the respite? These are all important questions to ask the provider. 


  1. Emergency protocols: How do you handle emergencies or unexpected situations?


Do you have an evacuation plan at the respite house? Who can I contact in an emergency? Do you have an emergency and disaster plan in place? Again, these are really important questions to ensure safety and peace of mind during your respite stay. 


  1. Feedback mechanism: How do you gather and respond to feedback from individuals and their families?


Does the company have a good feedback culture? Do they have mechanisms where you can provide feedback after the respite and ensure they are open and responsive to your needs?


If you are interested in learning more about Empowered Community Services and our respite offerings around the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Area, click here.


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