Aged care sector grown by 46% in past decade

29 October, 2013

The number of aged care places in residential facilities and community-based care rose by 46 per cent between June 2002 and June 2012, according to new information released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

This directly reflects the planned provision ratio of 113 aged care places per 1000 population aged 70 or older.

The information shows that at June 2012 there were nearly 253,000 government-subsidised aged care places, accounting for $12.9 billion of government spending.

"Most of the growth in places has been in community-based care-that's care provided to people to help them stay in their own homes," Dr Pamela Kinnear, AIHW spokesperson, said.

"There is now one community-based aged care place for every three residential aged care places, compared with one for every four in 2008."

In 2012, 21 per cent of community care places were for high-level care, and this has gradually increased since 2002 when high-level community care was introduced.

"Many older Australians prefer to remain in the community as long as possible, and during 2011-12, nearly 80,000 people received a package of care to help them stay in the community," Dr Kinnear said.

The typical age of clients in community care programs was 83, about 3 years younger than clients in permanent residential aged care. Women outnumbered men by more than two to one in both community and residential aged care, and about one in three care recipients were born overseas.

Indigenous Australians tended to use both mainstream residential aged care services and community aged care at younger ages than non-Indigenous Australians.

Among all permanent residents, 80 per cent of those aged 65 or older were classified as requiring high-level care, but among residents aged under 65, the proportion requiring high-level care was 87 per cent.

"Permanent residents in government-subsidised aged care facilities who had a diagnosis of dementia were more likely than other residents to be assessed as requiring high care — 90 per cent compared with 70 per cent, respectively," Dr Kinnear said.

In recent years, there has been a trend towards fewer but larger aged care services.

"For example, at 30 June 2012, 47 per cent of facilities had 61 or more places, more than double the proportion a decade earlier," Dr Kinnear said.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.