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A new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) examines, for the first time, whether older Australians follow recommendations from aged care assessments.

‘Before people can access certain aged care programs, they need to undertake an Aged Care Assessment, where recommendations are also made on the preferred setting for care—either in the person’s home or in permanent residential aged care,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr Phil Anderson.

The report, Pathways in aged care: do people follow recommendations? looks at the care pathways of older Australians through the aged care system for 2 years following their first assessment for aged care services.

‘The care needs of people can vary considerably when they first seek assistance from a government program, and so even at this early stage different people require different services—from limited assistance in a community care program to high-level care in a residential facility.’

The report suggests that older people who used community care while they were in their own home were least likely to enter permanent care within 2 years of undergoing an Aged Care Assessment.

For example, 54% of people who were recommended to live in low-level residential aged care, who hadn’t used either residential respite or community care, ended up accessing permanent residential aged care within 6 months.

However, 26% of people who were recommended to live in low-level residential aged care, who used both residential respite and community care, accessed permanent residential aged care within 6 months.

‘This means that people who did not use community care were more likely to access residential aged care shortly after their Aged Care Assessment,’ Dr Anderson said.

Some older people who underwent an Aged Care Assessment did not use aged care services in the 2 years after their first assessment. For example, one in six (17%) of those recommended to live in low-level residential care did not do so in the two years after their first assessment.

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.

Canberra, 1 September 2011

Further information: Dr Phil Anderson, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1125, mob. 0417 881 017

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032

Full report: Pathways in aged care: do people follow recommendations?