Australia's aged care-more assistance, especially to those who remain at home

The combined number of residential aged care places and community aged care packages in Australia has increased by over 36,000 over the last seven years to 169,000 in 2001, according to two new reports released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

This increase represents a shift in overall aged care provision levels from around 93 places and packages per 1000 people aged 70 and over in the mid-1990s to 97.5 places and packages in 2001.

Residential Aged Care in Australia 2000-01 shows that the number of residential aged care places has risen from 142,300 places in June 2000 to 144,000 places in June 2001. The provision ratio, however, fell between 2000 and 2001, from 84.5 residential aged care places per 1,000 people aged 70 and over to 83.3 places per 1,000 aged 70 and over.

Community Aged Care Packages in Australia 2000-01 reveals that the number of community aged care packages available for providing services to people in their own homes has increased substantially from 18,300 in June 2000 to 24,600 in 2001. The increase in provision levels between 2000 and 2001 was also substantial, up from 10.8 to 14.1 packages per 1,000 people aged 70 and over.

Head of the AIHW's Welfare Division, Dr Diane Gibson, said that the figures showed that the emphasis on use of community aged care packages was accelerating.

'There was a large rise between June 2000 and June 2001 of over 6,300 packages off a base of 18,300 packages. Over the same period the number of operational residential places rose by about 1,700 places from a base of 142,300.

'Community aged care packages aim to help people-who might otherwise be eligible for 'low care' places in residential aged care services-to remain in their own homes by providing personal care, household assistance and other services.'

'Meanwhile the residential care system is catering for an increasing proportion of high dependency residents. Over the past three years, the proportion of permanent residents categorised as 'high care' shifted from 58% to 63%-a significant rise for a relatively short period of time.'

Half of all aged care home residents at 30 June 2001 were 85 years or older. In contrast, package recipients were somewhat younger, with one-third being aged 85 and over. Over 70% of the recipients of both services were women.


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