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People using 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.

Over a quarter of a million people (259,000) were using residential care (permanent or respite), home care or transition care services in Australia on 30 June 2017. In addition, in 2016–17 almost 723,000 people were assisted in their home under the Commonwealth Home Support Program. The social characteristics of the people receiving care tell us how the care system is functioning. Some groups of people are overrepresented in certain types of care and others are underrepresented. Learn about the people in aged care in this topic.

A pie chart shows that the majority of people using aged care in 2016–17 were using home support services.
2 in 3 people receiving aged care services on 30 June 2017 were women.
69% of people receiving aged care services on 30 June 2017 were in Major cities, compared with 65% of the target population.
3% of the Australian population are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, compared with 0.9% of people in permanent residential aged care on 30 June 2017.
1 in 3 people in aged care services on 30 June 2017 were born overseas.

Some of the key characteristics of people using aged care are:

  • Women outnumber men in in each program—around 2 in 3 people using aged care were women.

  • Home support had the lowest proportion of people aged 85 and over (29%), rising to 42% in home care and 59% in permanent residential aged care.   

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounted for less than 1% of people in permanent residential aged care, but they are better represented in home care and home support, making up 3% of people with a recorded Indigenous status in home support and 4% in home care.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in aged care are on average younger than non-Indigenous people: 42% of Indigenous people using home support (33% for home care and 26% for residential care) were aged under 65, compared with less than 3% of non-Indigenous people in each program.

  • Around one-third of people using each aged care program were born overseas. This reflects migration to Australia over past decades—37% of Australians aged 65 years and over were born overseas.
     

Age profiles vary between types of care

The three biggest aged care programs have different age profiles among their users:

  • People using home support and home care are somewhat younger than those using residential care. A higher proportion of people using residential care were aged 85 years and over (47% of men and 65% of women) compared with those using home care (39% of men and 43% of women), and home support (29% of men and 30% of women).

Men and women using aged care have different age profiles. This is particularly pronounced in residential care.

  • A higher proportion of women in residential care were in older age groups compared with men. For example, 1 in 10 women in residential care on 30 June 2017 were aged 95–99, compared with 1 in 20 men.
  • There were more men in younger age groups than there were women; for example, the 60–64 age group represented 3% of men using residential aged care, compared with 1% of women.
A population pyramid shows the proportion of people using aged care services by age group, sex and the type of aged care service. There were differences in the age profiles of people using residential care, home care and home support services. The pyramid shows that people using residential care services were more skewed toward the older age groups, with the majority of people aged 85 years and over. Home care and Home support had more users in the younger age groups than residential care.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people using aged care services are younger than non-Indigenous people

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in aged care services are younger than non-Indigenous people
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face multiple health and social disadvantages. As a consequence, they are more likely to develop serious medical conditions earlier in life, and have a lower life expectancy than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Almost two–thirds (65%) of deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people occur before the age of 65, compared with 19% of non-Indigenous deaths. You can learn more about the health and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the AIHW website.

In addition to the programs shown here, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program provides culturally-appropriate care for Indigenous people in locations close to their communities. On 30 June 2017, there were 820 places available in this program.

The graph below shows the proportion of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people for each age group in home support, home care and residential aged care.

  • Over 15% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people using home support during 2016–17 were aged under 55 years, compared with just 1% of non-Indigenous people.

  • Almost 8% of Indigenous people in residential aged care on 30 June 2017 were aged under 55 years, compared with 0.7% of non-Indigenous people.

A population pyramid shows the proportion of people using aged care services by age, type of aged care service and Indigenous status. Across all types of aged care services, people who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander had a much younger age profile than non-Indigenous people using aged care services. A quarter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in residential care were aged under 65 years, compared with 3% of non-Indigenous people in aged care. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people using Home care and Home support services were 18 times more likely to be aged under 65 years than non-Indigenous people.

People in rural areas are more likely to use residential aged care services for short visits than people in urban areas

The proportion of people in residential aged care who were admitted for a short respite stay varies across Australia. On 30 June 2017, 2.7% of people in residential aged care facilities in Major cities were there for respite care. This proportion increased in more rural areas, with the highest proportion being in Remote and Very remote regions (5.2%).

A bar graph shows the proportion of people in residential care who were admitted for short-stay respite care by remoteness status. People living in major cities were the least likely to be admitted to respite care, with the likelihood of being admitted to respite care increasing with remoteness. People living in remote and very remote areas were almost twice as likely to be admitted to respite care compared with people living in major cities.

Learn more about the people in aged care, including their characteristics and factors that influence the way people use these services by clicking through to the explore section.