Younger people in residential aged care

Government-subsidised aged care in Australia is provided 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 Younger People in Residential Aged Care—Action Plan is an Australian Government initiative aimed at minimising the need for younger people to live in aged care facilities. Younger people who are eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), can also use their NDIS funding to access alternative accommodation and care arrangements.

On a given day, more than 6,000 younger people are in permanent residential aged care (about 3.3% of people in permanent residential aged care at 30 June 2018). This has changed only slightly over the past decade. In general, the number of admissions each year matches the number of discharges, keeping overall numbers relatively stable.

In addition to those living in permanent residential aged care, on average, more than 2,000 younger people are admitted for respite residential aged care each year (2,600 at 30 June 2018). They typically stay around 1 month.

To try to understand the needs and characteristics of younger people living in residential aged care, the rest of this section uses the AIHW’s Pathways in Aged Care linked dataset to describe the:

  • activity limitations of people aged under 65 who first entered residential aged care
  • extent to which their main medical condition limits their daily activities.

Where can I find out more?

Detailed data tables are available at Data.

Information on:

  • use of aged care services—AIHW GEN
  • services the NDIS funds—NDIS
  • people with disability from the most recent ABS SDAC—ABS SDAC.


ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2016. Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of findings, 2015. ABS cat. no. 4430.0.[email protected]/mf/4430.0

AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2016. National Aged Care Data Clearinghouse Data Dictionary. Version 1.0. Cat. no. AGE 80. Canberra: AIHW.