New home-based care program for frail older people highlighted in census report

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has reported on the first census of the Commonwealth's new Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH) program. The program provides packages of care equivalent to high-level residential care, including nursing and personal care, to older people in their own homes.

The Extended Aged Care at Home Census 2002, conducted for the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, presents data collected during one week in May 2002.

Since the time of the census, when 290 EACH packages were approved, the program has seen rapid expansion, with over 900 approved packages available by the end of 2003.

Ann Peut, Head of the Ageing and Aged Care Unit at AIHW, said that this growth was in keeping with the trend toward providing an increasing array of care to older people in their own homes.

'Other care packages are available to older Australians, such as Community Aged Care Packages (CACP)' says Ann Peut, 'but the difference lies in the level of care offered and the additional access to nursing care and allied health services in the home'. While the proportion of care recipients over 85 years of age is similar to CACP, the census highlights the higher level of care EACH recipients receive.

'The average hours of service received per week is about 17, with the predominant service provided being personal care (9 hours). Around 75% of recipients receive care from registered nurses. Most of this nursing care would have been either organised or funded by the EACH Program.

'Almost one in three people receiving care through the program in 2002 had been diagnosed with dementia. Although the hours of care provided were similar for clients both with and without dementia, 43% of those with dementia required assistance in all 11 core activities, such as eating, dressing, bathing and communicating, compared with 18% of those without dementia.'

A profile of the recipients drawn from the census showed that 64% were female and one-third were aged 85 years or older. A high proportion (81%) lived in privately owned residences, with 76% living with a family member.

Recipients came from 35 different countries, with 61% specifying Australia as their place of birth.


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