This report focuses on the residential aged care system in Australia, which is regulated and principally funded by the Australian Government.

Note: In addition to residential aged care, the Australian Government subsidises and regulates community care services provided to older people in their own homes such as Community Aged Care Packages (CACP), Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH) packages and Extended Aged Care at Home Dementia (EACH D) packages.

More aged care places, but provision ratios down slightly

The number of residential aged care places continues to increase, with over 178,000 operational residential places at 30 June 2009 compared with around 175,500 places in 2008.

The provision ratio for residential aged care places fell slightly compared with the previous year, but is near the government’s target for 2011. At 30 June 2009, the provision ratio for residential aged care places was 87.0 places per 1,000 people aged 70 years or more, compared with 87.7 places the previous year. The government’s planning target is 88 places per 1,000 by June 2011.

The provision ratio for residential aged care places and community aged care packages combined was 110.1 places per 1,000 people aged 70 years or over in 2009 compared with 110.9 in 2008. The government’s target is 113 places per 1,000 by June 2011.

Residents—mostly women, most have high-care needs, over half are 85+

At 30 June 2009, there were nearly 162,300 residents in mainstream residential aged care services. Female residents outnumbered male residents by more than 2 to 1. Over half of all residents (55%) were aged 85 years or over. Three-quarters of permanent residents (75%) were assessed as ‘high-care’ and the remainder as ‘low-care’.

Government-allocated high-care residential places to approved providers in 2009 outnumbered low-care places (3,765 and 1,983 respectively).

Usage rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were considerably higher at younger ages (65 years and under) than for the corresponding non-Indigenous population (6.7 per 1,000 compared to 2.6 per 1,000 respectively).

Spending on aged care services—over $10 billion a year, mostly residential care

In 2008–09, the total of all recurrent Australian and state and territory government expenditure on aged care services was $10.1 billion. An estimated $6.6 billion of this amount was spent on residential aged care, with the Australian Government the dominant funder (estimated $6.5 billion).

Australian Government expenditure on residential aged care per person aged 70 years and over was higher in South Australia and New South Wales compared with other states and territories.