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Admissions into aged care

This page has been updated with the latest data available at 30 June 2018. You can download data directly from the visualisations by clicking in the graph area and using the 'download' menu.

The choice of aged care services is an important and sensitive decision for many older Australians. There are different services available to support people’s varying needs. People are counted as an ‘entry’ to aged care when they start using a service, and if a person leaves care (excluding short periods of leave), they are counted again if they return.

Half of admissions into residential care in 2017–18 were for respite stays.
72,000 admissions into permanent residential care in 2017–18.
54,000 admissions into home care in 2017–18.
25,000 admissions into transition care in 2017–18.
59% of people entering permanent residential aged care for the first time in 2017–18 were female.

In 2017–18:

  • Around 229,000 people began using aged care services.
  • 2 in 3 of these were an admission into residential care—this was split between permanent (71,900) and respite care (79,100).
  • Of all people entering aged care, almost 1 in 4 people started using home care (53,700) and 1 in 9 started using transition care (24,800).
  • Around 62,200 people were admitted to permanent residential aged care for the first time in 2017–18.

More people are entering home care

Increasing numbers of people are entering aged care services. In 2008–09, around 161,600 people entered residential aged care, home care or transition care. In 2017–18, this figure had increased to around 229,500 people, representing an increase of 42% in admissions over that period. While the number of admissions to permanent residential aged care rose by 4%, they increased by 40% for respite residential care, 97% for transition care, and 130% for home care over that period.

A stacked bar chart shows the number of admissions into aged care by year and the type of aged care service. The number of admissions into each type (transition care, home care, respite residential care and permanent residential care) have increased over the past 10 years from 161,600 admissions in 2008–09 to 229,500 in 2017–18 (an increase of 42%). There largest increase was for admissions to home care (130%), followed by transition care (97%) and respite care (40%), while permanent care increased by only 4%. By 2016–17 it no longer represented the largest number of admissions—there were more admissions to respite care than permanent care from 2014–15 onwards.

How do people enter aged care?

Once a person decides they would like to use aged care services, they arrange an assessment to determine what care would be best for them. A member of their local Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) does the assessment looking at their physical, medical, psychological and social needs. After the assessment, the ACAT lets the person know the services they are approved for, and the reasons why. They can choose whether or not they would like to follow the recommendations.

The time between an ACAT approval and starting an aged care service is a proxy measure of service access, as low numbers of available places increase waiting times. However, other factors also influence the time between approval and entry into a service. For example, some people:

  • Wish to remain at home for as long as possible, going into approved care at a later date or not at all
  • Delay entry into care due to personal circumstances, such as selling their home
  • Choose informal care, where family, friends or the community provide support 
  • Reject an offer due to the cost or location.

Explore more about entries to aged care services in the next section, including initial assessments and how entries vary by program, state/territory and demographics.