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People leaving aged care

Once people have finished using an aged care service they are ‘discharged’, and information on their reasons for leaving care and how long they were in care are recorded. This section reports on such exits from residential care and home care.

In 2015–16:
  • There were around 206,700 people leaving aged care.
  • The majority of exits were from residential care (142,200), followed by home care (39,300), and transition care (24,300).
  • People spent an average of just under three years in permanent residential care, whereas people in respite care stayed for an average of 2 months.
  • People spent an average of 2 years and 5 months in home care.
  • Just over 80% of exits from permanent residential care were due to death, compared to 14% from home care .
  • Around 32% of people who left home care entered residential care, and 10% of people who left permanent residential care moved to a different facility (see pie chart below).

Why do people leave aged care?

People leave aged care for a number of different reasons, including moving to another service, going to hospital (not including short periods of hospital leave), returning to the community, or death. In each of these cases, they are counted as a discharge (also termed ‘exit’) every time they leave care (excluding short periods of leave).

The time that people spend in care and the reasons they leave vary by program type, but can be influenced by factors such as age, sex and care needs. Sometimes people leave aged care but return at a later date, throughout the year or after many years.

In the next section, explore more about the reasons people leave aged care, their average length of stay in care, and how exits vary by program type.