Aged care

The Australian aged care system delivers services through a range of provider and care types within community-based and residential settings. This section is limited to discussion of the mainstream residential and community-based aged care programs. For more information on aged care in Australia, see GEN aged care data.

Community-based aged care

Commonwealth Home Support Programme

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) provides a basic level of aged care services to support continued independence for people aged 65 and over living at home and their carers. It incorporated the Commonwealth Home and Community Care (HACC) program on its launch in 2015, although HACC will continue in Western Australia until 2018. In 2016–17, more than 720,000 people aged 65 and over received home support services (CHSP and HACC in WA) [1].

Home Care Packages Programme

The Home Care Packages Programme (Home Care) assists frail older people to remain at home for longer. In 2017, the Australian Government introduced the Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms. These reforms aimed to change Home Care to a more consumer-driven system, whereby places are allocated to individuals based on demand, and providers are better able to expand to meet this changing local demand. Between 30 June 2016 and 30 June 2017, the number of operational approved providers had increased by 41.5% [1].

At 30 June 2017, there were around 71,400 Home Care recipients, and the majority (68%) were receiving care at Levels 1-2 (basic–moderate care needs). Home Care recipients were likely to be aged 65 and over (97%), with the average age at admission into Home Care at 80.2 [2]. The number of Home Care recipients has increased by 84% over the last 10 years, reflecting an increasing preference by older Australians to age in place, and increased capacity of the system to deliver community-based care.

Box 1: Home Care Packages Programme

The Home Care Packages Programme (Home Care) replaced the three community packaged aged care programs in place before August 2013. It offers four levels of care (with levels 1 and 3 being available only to new clients from 1 August 2013). The translations to Home Care were:

  • CACPs translated to Home Care level 2
  • Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH) packages translated to Home Care level 4
  • Extended Aged Care at Home Dementia (EACHD) Packages also translated to Home Care level 4.

Further information on Home Care is available on the AIHW GEN aged care data website.

Residential aged care

Residential aged care provides:

In 2016–17, almost all (97%) people in either type of residential aged care were aged 65 and over: some 232,000 of these people used permanent residential aged care and some 57,500 used respite residential aged care [2].

The capacity of the residential aged care sector has been gradually expanding: the overall number of operational places available in residential aged care rose from 167,000 at 30 June 2007 to 201,000 in 2017 (an increase of 17%). Over the same period, the number of people in permanent residential aged care at 30 June rose from 153,000 to 179,000 (an increase of 17%) [2].

The Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) is used to assess people in permanent residential aged care for care needs that affect the cost of care delivery. The ACFI measures care needs across three different areas of care —‘activities of daily living’, ‘cognition and behaviour’, and ‘complex health care’. The proportion with people with a ‘high’ care needs assessment has increased over time for every care domain, except for a reduction in the complex health care domain in 2017 (Figure 2).


  1. Department of Health (Doh) 2017. 2016–17 Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act 1997. Canberra: DoH
  2. Steering Committee Report on Government Service Provision (SCRGSP) 2018. Report on government services. Canberra: SCRGSP.