Determining a respite care couple


Approved respite care is care provided in a nursing home (1.1.N.140) or hostel (1.1.H.90) that receives a Commonwealth subsidy. Legislation administered by the Department of Health and Aged Care places a limit of 63 days respite care each financial year for a claimant/recipient in a particular facility.

Definition: member of a couple

A person is a member of a couple under the SSAct if they have a relationship with another person, where both people are over the age of consent (applicable to the relevant state of territory), are committed to each other on a permanent or indefinite basis, are not in a prohibited relationship, and are either:

  • legally married, or
  • in a registered relationship (, or
  • in a de facto relationship (

In determining if a person is in a member of a couple relationship, consideration is given to the following 5 factors:

  • the financial aspects of the relationship,
  • the nature of the household,
  • the social aspects of the relationship,
  • any sexual relationship between the people, and
  • the nature of the people's commitment to each other.

Act reference: SSAct section 4(12) to section 4(13) Prohibited relationship


Respite care couples will be assessed against the single rate of payment applicable but the assessment will still take into account the combined income and assets as if they were a member of a couple.

Verification required

A statement of admission from a nursing home or hostel can be accepted as verification of the length of admission and the provision of approved respite care.

Explanation: All nursing homes and hostels that receive a Commonwealth subsidy for the provision of respite care are required to issue each recipient/applicant with a statement on the day of admission setting out details of the anticipated length of admission.

If a recipient/applicant does NOT have a statement from a nursing home or hostel it is necessary to verify:

  • the date of admission and discharge, AND
  • that the nursing home or hostel is one that receives an Commonwealth subsidy.

Act reference: SSAct section 4(8) Respite care couple

Policy reference: SS Guide Determining an illness separated couple

Last reviewed: