Key concepts

Residential mental health care

Key concept Description
Episodes of residential care Episodes of residential care are defined as a period of care between the start of residential care (either through the formal start of the residential stay or the start of a new reference period (that is, 1 July)) and the end of residential care (either through the formal end of residential care, commencement of leave intended to be greater than 7 days, or the end of the reference period (that is, 30 June)). An individual can have one or more episodes of care during the reference period.
The state and territory mental health acts and regulations provide the legislative cover that safeguards the rights and governs the treatment of patients with mental illness in admitted patient care, residential care and community-based services. The legislation varies between the state and territory jurisdictions but all contain provisions for the assessment, admission and treatment of patients on an involuntary basis, defined as ‘persons who are detained in hospital or compulsorily treated in the community under mental health legislation for the purpose of assessment or provision of appropriate treatment or care’.
Resident A resident is a person who receives residential care intended to be for a minimum of 1 night.
Residential care days

Residential care days refer to the number of days of care the resident received in the episode of residential care.

The number of days a resident was in residential care is calculated by subtracting the date on which the residential stay started from the episode end date and deducting any leave days. These leave days may occur for a variety of reasons, including receiving treatment by a health service or spending time in the community. Note that leave days taken prior to 2009–10 were not accounted for due to lack of data.

Residential mental health care

Residential mental health care refers to residential care provided by residential mental health services. A residential mental health service is a specialised mental health service that:

  • employs mental health trained staff on‑site
  • provides rehabilitation, treatment or extended care to residents for whom the care is intended to be on an overnight basis and in a domestic‑like environment
  • encourages the residents to take responsibility for their daily living activities.

These services include those that employ mental health trained staff on-site 24 hours per day and other services with less intensive staffing. However, all these services employ on‑site mental health trained staff for some part of the day.

Residential stay Residential stay refers to the period of care beginning with a formal start of residential care and ending with a formal end of the residential care. It may involve more than one reference period (that is, more than one episode of residential care).

Alternative text for figures for Residential mental health services section

Figure RMHC.1

Vertical bar chart showing residential mental health care episodes and estimated number of residents (rate per 10,000 population), by state or territory, 2017–18. Estimated number of residents per 10,000: Tas: 9.9, SA: 5.8, Vic: 5.5, NT: 4.6, ACT: 1.3, QLD: 1.0, WA: 0.5, NSW: 0.2 and nationally: 2.4. Episodes per 10,000 population: Tas: 17.9, SA: 7.0, Vic: 6.8, NT: 5.2, ACT: 1.7, WA: 1.3, QLD: 1.2, NSW: 0.2 and nationally: 3.1. Refer to Table RMHC.1. Back to figure RMHC.1

Figure RMHC.2

Horizontal bar chart showing the rates of people receiving residential mental health care services (per 10,000 population), by demographic variables, 2017–18. Rates for people aged less than 18 years were low (0.0 to 0.7 people per 10,000 age specific population), higher among 18–24 years (4.2), 25–34 years (3.8) and 35–44 years (4.2), decreasing among 45–54 years (3.5) and for those 55 years and older (1.4). Rates for Indigenous Australians (5.2 people per 10,000 population) were higher than non-Indigenous Australians (2.3), as were Australian-born residents (2.8) compared with overseas-born residents (1.2). Rates were lowest per 10,000 population for patients living in Remote and Very remote areas (1.5), Outer regional (1.5), Major cities (2.2) and highest for Inner regional (3.4). Rates for patients living in SEIFA quintile 1 were the highest (3.0 per 10,000 population), decreasing with each quintile to be the lowest in SEIFA quintile 5 (1.6 per 10,000 population). Refer to Table RMHC.3. Back to figure RMHC.2

Figure RMHC.3

 Horizontal bar chart showing the proportion of residential episodes for the 5 most commonly reported principal diagnoses, 2017–18. Schizophrenia: 26.9%, Specific personality disorders: 11.9%, Schizoaffective disorders: 9.2%, Depressive episode: 8.5% and Bipolar affective disorders: 6.6%. Refer to Table RMHC.15. Back to figure RMHC.3

Figure RMHC.4

Horizontal bar chart showing the proportion of residential mental health care episodes (per cent) by length of completed residential stay, 2017–18. 0–2 weeks: 50.1%, >2 weeks–1 month: 30.8%, >1–3 months: 9.7%, >3–6 months: 4.6%, >6–12 months: 2.8%, >1–5 years: 2.0% and >5 years: 0.1%. Refer to Table RMHC.9. Back to figure RMHC.4

Figure RMHC.5

Line chart showing the proportion of residential mental health care episodes by length of completed residential stay from 2005–06 to 2017–18. 0–2 weeks increased from 2005–06 to 2012–13, then decreased to 50.1% in 2017–18. >2 weeks–1 month showed a gradual increase over the time period. The rest of the duration categories >1–3 months, >3–6 months, >6–12 months, >1–5 years and >5 years, representing smaller proportions overall, showed a tendency to decline. Refer to Table RMHC.9.  Back to figure RMHC.5

Figure RMHC.6

Stacked horizontal bar chart showing the number of residential episodes for the 5 most commonly reported principal diagnoses, by mental health legal status, voluntary or involuntary, 2017–18. Schizophrenia: involuntary 750 and voluntary 1,257, Specific personality disorders: involuntary 29 and voluntary 892, Schizoaffective disorders: involuntary 269 and voluntary 434, Depressive episode: involuntary 43 and voluntary 616 and Bipolar affective disorders: involuntary 121 and voluntary 380. Refer to Table RMHC.12. Back to figure RMHC.6