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Explore interfaces between the aged care and health systems

This page includes the latest data available at November 2019. You can download data directly from the visualisations by clicking in the graph area and using the 'download' menu.

On this page you can explore the interfaces between the aged care and health systems in more detail.

This information focuses on ‘stable aged care users’ (that is individuals who used the same aged care type for the year) of the 3 biggest aged care programs—permanent residential aged care, home support and home care—across the year in 2016–17, as well as a sample group of non-aged care users for comparison. These groups of older Australians are described in more detail in the AIHW report Interfaces between the aged care and health systems in Australia—first results.

People using aged care were more likely to have prescriptions dispensed to them than people who did not use aged care

  • In 2016–17, around 98–99% of people using aged care services had at least one prescription, compared with 93% of people who did not use aged care.
  • Most people had prescriptions for multiple medicines—the median number of distinct medicines dispensed per person in 2016–17 was 10 for people for each of the community-based aged care groups, 11 for people living in permanent residential aged care, and 6 for people who had not used aged care.
  • Medicines for the cardiovascular system were the type most dispensed for people using community-based aged care and those with no use of aged care. For people living in permanent residential aged care, the most commonly dispensed medicines were those that act on the nervous system.
A bar graph shows the proportion of people in the four groups with at least 1 prescription dispensed by type of medication, age and sex. For each type of drug, the proportion was generally larger among people living in residential care, but this differed between aged groups.

Reasons for visiting an emergency department varied between different groups of aged care users

Data on ED presentations were available for people in the 4 groups of interest who used hospitals in 2 jurisdictions only (Queensland and Victoria). 

  • About one-third of people who used aged care services had at least 1 ED presentation in 2016–17 (between 32–38%) compared with 14% of people who had not used aged care. 
  • Most people who had an ED presentation in 2016–17 had only 1 presentation—52–54% among people using community-based aged care, 58% among people living in permanent residential aged care, and 70% among people who had never used aged care.
  • Just over one-quarter (28%) of ED presentations for people living in permanent residential aged care were due to injuries.

People using community-based aged care services were more likely to have had a hospital separation than non-aged care users and people living in permanent residential aged care

Data on hospital separations were available for people in the 4 groups of interest who used hospitals in 2 jurisdictions only (Queensland and Victoria). 

  • More than half of people using home support (58%) and home care (51%) had at least 1 hospital separation in 2016–17, compared with 37% of people living in permanent residential aged care and 32% among those not using any aged care.
  • In 2016–17, the most common reason for same-day separations from hospital for all 4 groups was Dialysis and other health services—ranging from 37% among people who never used aged care to 70% among those using home care. 
  • Overnight hospital stays commonly related to more serious acute or chronic issues. The most common reason for overnight separations varied between the 4 groups: Injury and poisoning for people living in permanent residential aged care, Respiratory diseases for people using home care, and Circulatory diseases for people using home support and people who had not used aged care. 
A side-by-side bar graph shows the 5 most common reasons for hospital separations for the 4 groups, and the proportion of hospitalisations in each group due to that reason, by duration of stay (overnight or same-day). The most common reason for overnight hospitalisations of people living in permanent residential aged care was ‘Injury and poisoning’. The most common reason for same day hospitalisations for all 4 groups was ‘Dialysis and other health services’.