One-third of older Australians are from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds (ABS 2012). Knowing how this population group accesses aged care is a key issue in ensuring equitable and need-appropriate service delivery.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has been funded by the Department of Health (DoH) to explore the available data in the AIHW National Aged Care Data Clearinghouse (NACDC). This feasibility study examines options for mapping how older people from migrant CALD backgrounds use aged care services, including historical usage and potential future projections. This work builds on previous recommendations made by the AIHW on best measures to record people's cultural and linguistic diversity in aged care data collections (AIHW 2014).

People from CALD backgrounds can be defined in a number of ways-commonly through the person's country of birth and main or preferred language-but sometimes also through their ethnicity and cultural background, which can broaden the scope to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people whose parents or ancestors were born in countries where English was not the main language spoken. For the purposes of this review, only the migrant population will be considered, and only through the person's own CALD background, not that of their parents, ancestors or carers.

The AIHW previously recommended that, where a collection has no CALD measures, that as a minimum 'Country of birth' and 'Main language spoken at home'/'Main language other than English spoken at home' are implemented (AIHW 2014). 'Country of birth' is collected reliably across the aged care data sets received by the NACDC. However, 'Main language other than English', alongside other language-based measures such as 'Preferred language', is not consistently available for all NACDC data holdings.

It is important to note that these measures do not, in themselves, measure people's access to services. However, quantifying the proportion of people from CALD backgrounds who use and access different government-funded aged care programs can provide insight into differences between programs and population groups, as well as within the CALD population.

Key findings

Improvements to aged care data collection have been made, but many measures of CALD background are not yet fully available in NACDC data holdings. This should be addressed (see Section 2).

Using available NACDC data holdings, AIHW can quantify the proportion of people from CALD backgrounds-measured primarily through 'Country of birth' – by program type, age and sex, as well as across specific geographical regions (see Section 3).

Using available Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data holdings, AIHW can quantify the overall proportion of the older population that is from CALD backgrounds for specific geographical regions, contrasting this with the proportion that is receiving services in that particular area. Crude usage rates for people from CALD backgrounds, calculated from ABS and NACDC data, will further enhance our understanding of how aged care is being used by this diverse population group (see Section 3).

For future consideration, a staged approach to producing a comprehensive picture of how people from CALD backgrounds use aged care is proposed (see Section 4).