Government-subsidised aged care in Australia is provided based on need, not age. As such, sometimes even very young people take up permanent residential aged care to meet their care needs.
While for some people with disability, including some younger people, residential aged care is a setting of choice, generally younger people are considered to be better served by other services for their long-term care needs.
The Australian Government is working to reduce the number of younger people (under the age of 65) going into residential aged care, and to help younger people who are already in residential aged care to move into age-appropriate accommodation with the supports they need (DSS 2021a). The Younger People in Residential Aged Care Strategy 2020–25 sets out to achieve this goal through the following targets, apart from in exceptional circumstances:
- no people under the age of 65 entering residential aged care by end of 2022
- no people under the age of 45 living in residential aged care by end of 2022
- no people under the age of 65 living in residential aged care by end of 2025 (DSS 2021a).
Younger people who are eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can also use their NDIS funding to access alternative accommodation and support arrangements.
National Aged Care Data Clearinghouse
Data in this section are largely sourced from the National Aged Care Data Clearinghouse (NACDC). Any data not referenced on this page are sourced from Data tables for this report.
For the most up-to-date data, see the Younger people in residential aged care dashboard.
What is meant by ‘younger’ people in residential aged care?
There is no minimum age requirement to access government-subsidised aged care. For policy and planning purposes, however, people under the age of 65 are considered ‘younger’ people in care.
At 30 June 2020, 4,860 people aged under 65 were living in permanent residential aged care in Australia. This decreased to 3,440 by 31 December 2021 (AIHW 2021b).
There is no direct way to identify disability using the available aged care data.
Recent analysis suggests that the younger people may choose to remain in residential aged care due to the closeness of the facility to family and informal supports, valued and trusted relationships with staff and co-residents, the younger person’s support needs and requirements being met, feeling secure and happy in their environment, or their preferred accommodation type or location not being available in an area in which they wish to live (DSS 2021b).
In mid-2020, more than 4,900 younger people were in permanent residential aged care (about 2.6% of all people in permanent residential aged care at 30 June 2020). This number was relatively stable between 2010 and 2018 (6,480 people at 30 June 2010 and 6,050 people at 30 June 2018) and has been decreasing since (to 5,610 at 30 June 2019) (Figure RESIDENTIAL.1).