More residential aged care places were available in Australia again last year according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The report, Residential aged care in Australia 2004-05: A statistical overview shows there were 161,765 operational residential aged care places at the end of the 2004-05 financial year, up from 156,580 places the previous year, an increase of 3.3%.
Ann Peut, Head of the AIHW's Ageing and Aged Care Unit said, 'There were 85.3 residential places for every 1,000 people aged 70 years or over at 30 June 2005, compared to 84.2 places a year earlier.'
Over the same period, the provision of community-based care through Community Aged Care Packages and Extended Aged Care at Home packages has also grown.
Overall, the total availability of this type of care was 102.5 places and packages per 1,000 people aged 70 and over, up from 100.3 at June 2004.
'Over time, the age profile of residents has been changing, and residential aged care is catering to a progressively older population. More and more residents are now aged 85 and over - 52% in 2005 compared to 49% in 1999.
'Moreover, residents are now older when they first enter residential aged care. Over 70% of newly admitted permanent residents are now 85 years and over compared with 64% in 1998-99,' Ms Peut said.
Along with the increase in the age of residents, the proportion of residents who require high level care is growing.
'Dependency levels of permanent residents increased overall, with a total of 67% of permanent residents requiring high level care at 30 June 2005, compared to 58% at 30 June 1998.
'This means that the available residential care places are being used by an increasingly more dependent group of people', Ms Peut explained.