Care needs increasing for people in residential aged care

More aged care residents are requiring higher levels of care, continuing a trend which has been evident for some time, says a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Residential Aged Care in Australia 2005-06: a statistical overview, showed that as at 30 June 2006, 69% of permanent residents required high level care compared with 58% in 1998.

'Over the same period, the proportion of residents requiring low level care has declined from 38% to 31%, coinciding with a period of significant expansion in Community Aged Care Packages which are designed for the same client group, said Ms Ann Peut of the Institute's Ageing and Aged Care Unit.

Usage rates of permanent residential aged care increase substantially at older ages, varying from six people per 1,000 at ages 65-69 to 237 per 1,000 at ages 85 and over. Over half of all permanent residents are in the 85 years or older age group.

In 2005-06, there were 2,129 new high care residential places and 3,099 new low care residential places allocated to approved service providers.

There was a slight increase in the provision ratio of residential places in 2006 to 85.6 places per 1,000 persons aged 70 years and over (up from 85.3 in 2005 and from 81.7 five years ago) compared with the Australian government's current planning target ratio of 88.

Including community services covered by the 1997 Aged Care Act, the corresponding ratio of places and packages increased from 102.5 in 2005 to 105.8 in 2006 relative to the Australian government's current planning target of 108.

A total of 166,291 places were provided in 2006, compared with 161,756 in 2005.

Occupancy rates have decreased slightly from 96% in 2003-04 to just over 95% in 2005-06. The highest occupancy rate was in the ACT (98%) while the lowest was in Victoria (93%)' Ms Peut said.

The average size of residential aged care facilities has continued to grow, with an average of 60 places per facility in 2006 compared with about 46 places in 1998.

There were 154,872 people in residential aged care at the close of the financial year in 2006 of whom 151,737 were permanent residents and 3,135 were respite residents.

The average length of stay for permanent residents who left residential aged care during 2005-06 was 167 weeks for women and 109 weeks for men.

15 June 2007

Further information: Ms Ann Peut, AIHW, tel. +61 2 6244 1108, mobile 0419 296 053.

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. +61 2 6244 1032.