This report on residential aged care presents statistics from July 2010 to June 2011. Together with its companion report, Aged care packages in the community 2010-11: a statistical overview, it provides a comprehensive overview of Australian Government-funded aged care.

Most people living in residential aged care facilities are women, the majority are aged 80 and over and many are widowed

There were around 169,000 people living in residential aged care at 30 June 2011, nearly all on a permanent basis. About three-quarters (77%) were aged 80 and over and 57% were aged 85 and over. The difference in life expectancy between men and women is evident with 70% of permanent residents being female and more women widowed (64%) than their male counterparts (26%).

More places, larger facilities and mostly operated by the not-for-profit  sector

The number of operational residential aged care places has grown steadily since 1995 to reach 185,482 at 30 June 2011, representing an increase of 2,623 places (1.4%) over the previous year. There are 2,760 facilities providing care, with the majority of service providers being not-for-profit (60%), which is also the sector that operates the highest proportion of services (67%) in Very remote areas. Overall, the facilities themselves are becoming bigger, with 45% offering more than 60 places whereas only 6% offer fewer than 20 places.

Average length of stay is increasing

For permanent residents who left residential aged care between 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011, over one-third (38%) were in residential care for less than 1 year (27% for less than 6 months). Two-fifths (44%) had a length of stay between 1 and 5 years. Women tended to stay longer than men at an average of 168.1 weeks compared with 109.5 weeks, and most residents left due to death (91%). The average completed length of stay for permanent residents in 2010-11 was 145.7 weeks, an increase of 11% since 1998-99, when it was 131.3 weeks.

Care needs vary according to age

There were 56,531 people admitted to permanent residential care who had an Aged Care Funding Instrument appraisal, with 64% of them requiring high-level care. The proportion of younger residents (aged under 65) requiring high-level care at 30 June 2011 was 85%, with 57% requiring high care in the behaviour domain. By comparison, 76% of residents overall were high care, with 48% having high-care needs in the behaviour domain.

The age profile for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is different

At 30 June 2011, there were 1,127 residents (0.7%) in permanent residential aged care identifying as Indigenous. These residents had a younger age profile, with 24% under age 65 compared with 4% for all permanent residents in this age group, reflecting a tendency towards poorer health and eligibility for residential aged care at age 50. The composition of the residential care population in the Northern Territory was different from other states and territories, with 37% identifying as Indigenous.