Hostel residents staying longer, more dependent

Hostel residents in the late 1990s are staying longer and relying on a higher level of care-no matter how old they are-than in earlier times. Hostels in Australia 1995-96, shows that half of permanent hostel residents stay between 1 and 5 years and over 20% stay for more than 5 years. Only 8% had been in hostels for less than 3 months.

The new report from the AIHW also shows that hostels are now admitting people who are more dependent than previously. Head of the AIHW's Aged Care Unit, Dr Diane Gibson, said that an increasing proportion of current residents receive the Personal Care level of assistance.

"Personal Care assistance is provided for people who require higher levels of assistance with daily living activities. In 1996, 73% of residents received this Assistance compared with only 56% of residents in 1992.

"Women are more dependent than men, but there is surprisingly little variation in dependency levels among different age groups-though the youngest and the oldest residents are somewhat more dependent than others. This suggests that hostels are now focusing on people with higher levels of dependency, " Dr Gibson said.

Hostels in Australia 1995-96 shows that 84,990 people spent some time living in hostels in the 12 months to 30 June 1996. Dr Gibson said that 53% of admissions for that year were for respite care and that the majority of those who left hostels after respite care returned to the community.

In contrast, a previous publication by the AIHW, Nursing Homes in Australia 1995-96, showed that 108,331 people spent some time in a nursing home during the year. Of those admitted to a nursing home during 1995-96, only 25% were for respite admissions.

Other findings include:

  • At 30 June 1996 there were 1,510 hostels in Australia providing a total of 62,634 places (60,427 for permanent care and 2,197 for respite care); an average of 41 places per hostel. This represented 41.5 places per 1000 people aged 70 and over.
  • About 69% of permanent residents were women and over half of them were aged 85 years or more; 37% of male residents were 85 years or more.
  • Among residents for whom data were available, 78% were born in Australia and 12% in the UK and Ireland. Reporting rates for data items about birthplace and preferred language are only 78%.
  • Almost all (91%) hostel places in 1996 were managed by private-not-for-profit organisations.

The report, prepared by Mr Zhibin Liu, is the second in the AIHW's new Aged Care Statistics Series - a joint project of the AIHW and the Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services.

29 May 1998


Further information: Diane Gibson, ph. 02 6244 1190.
For media copies of the report: Michelle Wells, ph. 02 6244 1032.