Aged care services in Australia are provided based on need and, due to a range of circumstances, younger people (aged less than 65 years) are living in permanent residential aged care (permanent care).
This publication explores the characteristics of younger people entering permanent care and their pathways through the aged care system using linked data that enables an expanded view of the impact of various initiatives over time.
Focusing on a cohort of more than 27,900 younger people who lived in permanent care at some stage over an 11-year period, between 2009–10 to 2019–20, analysis of key characteristics of the cohort and their patterns of care use over time show:
- The number of younger people living in permanent care has been decreasing since 2016–17. The number of younger people living in permanent care during a financial year peaked at 8,400 in 2013–14, reaching the lowest number of 6,700 in 2019–20.
- The number of younger Indigenous Australians living in permanent care increased from 490 in 2009–10 to 600 in 2019–20, but this increase was seen only in the 50–64 age groups.
- Of the 21,600 younger people to have their first entry to permanent care from 2009–10 and onwards, nearly 1 in 5 (19%) had no prior contact with an aged care service.
- Dementia was the most reported health condition; recorded for more than 1 in 6 (18%) of the younger people who entered permanent care for the first time in the study period between 2016-17 to 2019-20.
- Receiving a formal home support service prior to entering permanent care was the most common pathway for younger people first entering permanent care; a third (34%, 7,400) followed this pathway.
- Dying (42%) and turning 65 (40%) were the main reasons people in the study cohort were no longer considered younger people living in permanent care.
Younger people living in permanent care between 1 July 2009 and 30 June 2020 (27,938)
Opportunities for future work in this area include further examination of how health and disability services interact with the aged care system to support younger people who are living in, or at risk of entering, permanent care. This future work will provide a more comprehensive picture of younger people in permanent care, exploring how younger people in permanent care are supported outside of the aged care system, and providing insights into the circumstances of younger people who are at risk of entering permanent care.
The GEN aged care data website publishes quarterly snapshot data on younger people in residential aged care.