Carers of people with dementia consistently report an unmet need for respite. Despite this, the overall proportion of carers who utilise available day centre, in-home and residential respite programs tends to be low and, even then, use is often delayed and only at very low intensities. In order to support carers in appropriate and supportive use of respite services, program planners and service providers need a good understanding of the factors influencing use and non-use of respite services. With this in mind, a community based survey of 152 help-seeking caregivers of people with dementia (NSW, Australia) was undertaken to establish what variables make the use of use of day, in-home and residential respite services difficult for caregivers. Results from multivariate logistic regression of survey data reveal that factors such as refusal of the person with dementia to attend services, and low perceived utility of services for the care recipient with dementia, are significantly correlated with caregivers not utilising available services for respite. Such results highlight that whilst the focus of respite services has legitimately emphasised the needs of caregivers for a break, low utilisation of services is likely to persist unless caregivers believe that service use will also be acceptable and of benefit to the person with dementia to whom they provide care.