The new government website (www.gen-agedcaredata.gov.au) provides some interesting data about the provision of aged care services in Australia.
The aged care system provides care for people in their own homes or in a residential aged care facility. The Government sets targets for the number of aged care places in home care and residential care for those aged 70 years and over.
70 per cent of places are in residential care. 28 per cent of places are in home care (up from 19 per cent just 10 years ago). The government intends to increase the proportion of places going to home care as this is a cheaper form of aged care.
Not-for-profit organisation provided nearly two-thirds of services in 2016. In 2015-16 there were over 72,000 admissions to residential care and 44,000 admissions to home care. There are four home care packages, with most being offered by the government at level 2.
There will be some issues with home care in the future, as it is likely that if older people stay in their homes longer they are more likely to need the more expensive level 4 packages, whereas the government will reluctant to expand the number of Level 4 packages available.
The average time between an ACAT assessment and admission to permanent aged care was 84 days. If you are a carer with a relative in need of an aged care place, it is not good news that the quickest time to get admission is around 3 months. Around 20 percent of those entering permanent care had a home care package and so would have received an ACAT assessment.
Aged care services are funded by government subsidies and personal contributions. Some not-for-profits also subsidise places for those who cannot afford the deposits and additional fees.
In 2015–16, the government spent $17 billion on aged care with $11.5 billion being spent on residential care and $4.3 billion on home care.
At 30th June 2016 249,000 people were using aged care services in Australia (up from 189,000 in 2006 – a 31% increase indicating the rapid rise in Australians entering this demographic. 67 percent of these people were women.
73 per cent of aged care recipients were in residential aged care. The average age of permanent aged care residents was 85 years (73 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders). People in rural areas are more likely to use residential aged care facilities for short visits than people in urban areas.
The average length of stay in residential aged care is 3 years, compared with 2 years in home care. 81 per cent of exits from residential care were due to the death of the resident.
52 per cent of those in permanent aged care were diagnosed with some form of dementia and 57 per cent had a mental health or other behavioural condition and 46 per cent had a diagnosis of depression. 92 per cent of residents had a high care need rating in at least one of the three Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) assessment areas.
Such high figures indicate the extent of the issues that those running aged care homes face, but one has to be suspicious that such high numbers also mask an inability of staff to cope with the issues that older Australians entering aged care homes face as such numbers appear extreme to this observer as old age is not of itself a mental condition.