Dependent women increasingly make up bulk of nursing home residents

Nursing home residents are most likely to be widowed women, aged 80 years or more who, after living alone prior to admission, rely on a higher level of care than ever before, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Nursing Homes in Australia 1995-96, shows that 72,682 Australians were living in nursing homes at 30 June 1996. Of these, more than 70% were women and almost 60 per cent of them were widowed, compared with 25 per cent of men. More than half of female residents are 85 years or older.

Acting Head of the AIHW's Aged Care Unit Dr Anne Jenkins, said that the report shows an increased level of dependency among residents in 1996 than in previous years.

"Around 50 per cent of residents needed more than 23 hours of care each week, and another 37 per cent needed 19 to 24 hours of care," Dr Jenkins said.

There were 44,244 admissions to nursing homes in 1995-96, 25 per cent of which were admissions for short-term respite care. "Approximately half of these residents were in hospitals when they applied for admission to nursing homes. This proportion was slightly higher for men compared with women," Dr Jenkins said.

Other findings of Nursing Homes in Australia 1995-96 include:

  • At 30 June 1996, there were 1,472 nursing homes in Australia providing a total of 75,004 beds: an average of 51 beds per nursing home. This represented 50 beds per 1000 people aged 70 and over.
  • Almost half (48%) the beds in nursing homes in 1996 were managed by private-for profit organisations.
  • In 1995-96, there were 32,961 separations from permanent care, 85% were due to death. Just under half of nursing home residents who died in 1995-96 had been in the nursing home for less than a year; 31 per cent died after a stay of less than six months, and 16% after a stay of five years or more.

The report is the first in the AIHW's new Aged Care Statistics Series which is jointly published by the AIHW and the Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services.

12 November 1997


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