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More than half of older people who received care as part of the Transition Care Program following a stay in hospital returned to live in the community, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Transition care for older people leaving hospital 2005-06 to 2012-13, provides an overview of the activities of the Transition Care Program (TCP) from 2005-06 to 2012-13.

'For many older people, a hospital stay can be accompanied by a decline in functioning,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Pamela Kinnear.

'TCP provides short term care to older Australians directly after discharge from hospital. The program aims to improve care recipients' level of independence and functioning and to delay entry to residential aged care.'

Results from this study show that two-thirds of care recipients had not entered residential aged care in the 12 months following their period of care.

'About 3 in 4 (76%) recipients who completed their planned care left the program with an improved level of functioning, and for 1 in 6 their functional status was unchanged,' Dr Kinnear said.

Since the program began in 2005 until 30 June 2013, it delivered over 108,000 transition care episodes that made up more than 94,000 care periods for 87,142 people.

The report shows that at the end of more than half of the care periods (54%), care recipients returned to live in the community - 18% without assistance from aged care services, and 36% with assistance from community-based aged care services.

For about 1 in 5 (21%) periods, the care recipient entered residential aged care directly from transition care, while 2% of care recipients died while receiving care.

Indigenous care recipients were more likely to return to the community (58%) and less likely to enter residential aged care (14%) than non-Indigenous care recipients (54% and 21% respectively), but more likely to return to hospital (20% compared with 17%).

A higher proportion of people from non-English-speaking backgrounds were discharged to residential aged care (25% compared with 20% of Australian-born recipients), and a lower proportion returned to the community (51% compared with 55%). This is in contrast to the general patterns of admission to aged care, where use of residential aged care is lower among people from non-English-speaking backgrounds compared with people born in Australia, and use of aged care packages in the community is generally higher.

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, 29 August 2014

Further information: Dr Pamela Kinnear, AIHW, tel. (02) 6249 5096, mob. 0421 600 377

Full publication: Transition care for older people leaving hospital 2005-06 to 2012-13