The combined number of residential aged care places and community aged care packages in Australia increased by more than 35,000 over the last eight years to reach 173,000 in 2002, according to two new reports released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
This represents a shift in overall aged care provision levels from around 93.9 places and packages per 1000 people aged 70 and over, to over 96.4 places and packages per 1000 in 2002 over that time period.
There were increases in place numbers over the past year for both types of care.
Residential Aged Care in Australia 2001-02 shows that between June 2001 and June 2002 the number of residential aged care places rose from just over 144,000 places to 146,268 places. The provision ratio fell over this period, however, from 82.2 residential aged care places per 1,000 people aged 70 and over to 81.6 places per 1,000 aged 70 and over.
Community Aged Care Packages in Australia 2001-02 reveals that the number of community aged care packages available for providing services to people in their own homes increased from 24,600 in June 2001 to 26,425 in June 2002. Provision levels increased between 2001 and 2002 from 14.0 to 14.7 packages per 1,000 people aged 70 and over.
Head of the AIHW's Ageing and Aged Care Unit, Dr Anne Jenkins, said that the figures showed that the emphasis on use of community aged care packages was accelerating.
'Community aged care packages aim to help people-who might otherwise be eligible for "low care" places in residential aged care services-to remain in their own homes by providing personal care, household assistance and other services.'
'Meanwhile the residential care system is catering for an increasing proportion of high dependency residents. Over the past five years, the proportion of permanent residents categorised as "high care" shifted from 58% to 64%-a significant rise for a relatively short period.'
'There have been more than 4,000 high care places allocated in the two approval rounds to November 2002 which is more than double the total previous allocations between 1995 and 2001 for high care places.'
Half of all aged care home residents at 30 June 2002 were 85 years or older. In contrast, package recipients were somewhat younger, with one-third being aged 85 and over. Over 70% of the recipients of both services were women.