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Admissions into aged care

This page has been updated with the latest data available at 30 June 2017. 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 2016–17 were for respite stays.
73,000 admissions into permanent residential care in 2016–17.
42,000 admissions into home care in 2016–17.
25,000 admissions into transition care in 2016–17.
105 days was the average time between approval and entry into permanent residential care in 2016–17.
156,000 aged care assessments were conducted for people in the target population in 2015–16.

In 2016–17:

  • Around 215,000 people began using aged care services.

  • Just over 2 in 3 of these was an admission into residential care—this was split between permanent (73,000) and respite care (75,000).

  • Of all people entering aged care, around 1 in 5 people started using home care (42,000) and 1 in 10 started using transition care (25,000).

  • The median time between approval and entry to permanent residential aged care is more than 3 months (105 days). 

  • The time between approval and entry to residential care (105 days) was longer than for home care (67 days), although this varied between states and territories.

More people are entering home care

Increasing numbers of people are entering aged care services. In 2007–08, around 164,000 people entered residential aged care, home care or transition care. In 2017–18, this figure had increased to over 215,000 people, representing an increase of 31% in admissions over that period. While the number of admissions to permanent residential aged care only increased by 6%, they increased by 42% for respite and 38% for transition care, and by 72% 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 164,000 admissions in 2007–08 to 215,000 in 2016–17 (an increase of 31%). There largest increase was for admissions to home care (72%), followed by respite care (42%) and transition care (38%), while permanent care increased by only 6%. 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 rough 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.

Two bar charts show the number of days people waited between approval for residential care or home care and entry into that care type, by state. The first bar chart shows that the median elapsed time was 105 days (3.5 months) for residential care, but these varied between states (from 61 days for Tasmania to 228 days for the Australian Capital Territory—a difference of more than 5.5 months). The bar chart for home care shows that the median elapsed time was shorter (67 days, or 2.2 months), with less variation (from 27 days in the Northern Territory to 98 days in the Australian Capital Territory—a difference of 2.4 months).

You can 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.