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Explore people leaving aged care

This page is updated with the latest available data at 30 June 2017. 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 more information, facts and figures about people leaving aged care services. You can filter the information in the graphs below to see more details on reasons for leaving and the characteristics of people leaving aged care.

Why do people leave residential care?

The reasons people leave residential care depend on the type of care they received. Permanent care is long-term care, whereas respite care is short-term care that gives people (or their carers) a temporary break from their usual care arrangements.

  • There were 145,000 exits from residential care in 2016–17.

  • Around half (52%) of these people were leaving from respite care.

  • The most common reason for leaving permanent care was death (82%), whereas the majority in respite care returned home (58%).

  • The proportion of exits from permanent care that were due to death increased from 71% to 82% since 2007–8, and the proportion that moved to another residential care facility decreased by a similar share over the same time (from 20% to 10%).

  • In respite care, the number of exits where people moved to another residential care facility also decreased since 2007–8 (from 14%  to 5%).

A stacked bar chart shows the proportion of exits from permanent or respite residential care that were due to death, moves to other residential care, home or community, hospital or other reasons, by sex and year over the past 10 years. The proportion of exits from permanent care due to death have increased from around 70% in 2007–08 to over 80% in 2016–17 for both men and women. Only 2–4% of exits from respite residential care were due to death for both sexes in any year. The chart also shows that the majority of exits from respite were due to people returning to home or community, although this decreased slightly for both sexes in the 10–year period: proportion of men returning home was 64% in 2007–08 and 57% in 2016–17, and the proportion for women went from 63% to 59%.

How long do people stay in residential care?

Reflecting differences in the nature of care provided, the average length of stay and the reasons for leaving were different for people in long-term permanent care and short-term respite care.

  • The average length of stay for permanent residential aged care was almost 30 months, or around 2 years and 6 months, but around 1 month (25 days) for respite care.

  • People who died in permanent residential care had the longest average length of stay at 32 months, or 2 years and 8 months.

  • Women stayed longer in permanent care than men, but this trend was not reflected in respite care.

  • The average time people spent in care has remained relatively steady over the last 10 years.

A bar chart shows the average lengths of stay in permanent or respite residential care, by discharge reason, sex and year over the past 10 years. In each year, exits from permanent care that were due to death had the longest length of stay for both sexes. The chart also shows that the lengths of stay in permanent care were longer for women regardless of discharge reason, but particularly so when discharge reason was death: in 2016–17, on average women stayed 37 months, or over 3 years, before leaving permanent care due to death. This compared with 25 months, or 2 years, for men. The chart further shows that in each year, moves to other residential care occurred after an average respite stay of 30 days.

Residential aged care is used for longer periods of time than home care

  • Average lengths of stay in permanent residential care are almost a year longer than in home care. The average length of stay for people leaving permanent residential care in 2016–17 was 2 years and 6 months, and for home care just under 1 year and 7 months.

  • The older people are when they leave, the longer they are likely to have used aged care. People aged over 100 years recorded the longest average lengths of stay across care types and sex.

  • Women stayed longer than men in both permanent residential care (2 years and 10 months for women, compared with just under 2 years for men) and home care (1 year and 8 months, compared with 1 year and 4 months).

A horizontal bar chart shows the average lengths of stay in permanent residential care or home care in 2016–17, by 5-year age group and sex. In permanent care, the oldest age groups had the longest average lengths of stay, particularly women. Women aged over 100 years had an average length of stay of 56 months, compared with 36 for men of the same age. Overall, lengths of stay in permanent care showed less variation among men regardless of age group. The chart shows a similar pattern for home care—although the average stays were shorter than in permanent care—with older age groups staying in care for longer, and women staying in care for longer on average than men in each age group.

Do exits from aged care vary by region?

The map below shows the rate of exits from aged care services, per 1,000 people in the target population (all people aged 65 years and over, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50–64 years) by Aged Care Planning Region (ACPR) or Primary Health Network (PHN).

  • The number of people leaving aged care is higher in regions along eastern Australia, relative to the number of people in the target population. However, the average time people spend in care tends to be higher in regions away from urban centres.

  • Exits from permanent residential care due to death are also higher in regions along the east coast, and, across regions, the average lengths of stay tend to be longer where discharge reason is death.

  • The number of exits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people per 1,000 of the target population is higher in the north and west of Australia.

  • Exits of people who prefer to speak languages other than English and who were born in non-English speaking countries are generally more prevalent in urban areas. However, some remote regions also have higher rates of exits for people who speak languages other than English.

A map of Australia shows the rate of exits per 1,000 people in aged care the target population and the average length of stay for people who left aged care in 2016–17. The map allows the user to filter the data by characteristics such as level of geography, aged care service type, age group, sex, Indigenous status, preferred language and country of birth. The data is also broken down by the reason for leaving aged care.