The number of Community Aged Care Packages provided to older Australians as an alternative to low-level residential aged care continues to increase, says the latest report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Community Aged Care Packages in Australia 2002-03: A statistical overview reports that there were 27,881 Community Aged Care Packages at the end of the 2002-03 financial year, an increase of 1,456 packages from the previous year.
This equates to 15.3 packages for each 1,000 people aged 70 years and over at 30 June 2003, compared to 14.7 a year earlier.
Ann Peut, Head of AIHW's Ageing and Aged Care Unit, said the total number of Community Aged Care Packages had risen each year since the program was introduced by the Commonwealth Government in 1992 to provide assistance for frail or disabled older people so they could continue living in the community.
'These increases included a 52% rise in the number of packages between 30 June 2000 and 30 June 2003, from 18,309 to 27,881 packages,' Ms Peut said.
In the year to 30 June 2003, there were 14,719 admissions to Community Aged Care Packages. During the same period, there were 12,776 separations.
'Among those who stopped using a package during that period, 47% of care recipients reported leaving to go to a residential aged care service and 19% died,' Ms Peut said.
The majority (60%) of care package recipients at 30 June 2003 were aged 80 years and over. Those aged 90 years and over accounted for 13% of recipients.
Female care recipients outnumbered male recipients by more than two to one, at 71% and 29% respectively.
Ms Peut said the growth in the number of Community Aged Care Packages was consistent with the preferences of many older Australians, with some need for support, to remain living in the community.
'The provision ratio of residential aged care places and Community Aged Care Packages combined has increased over recent years from 94.4 at 30 June 2000 to 98.1 at 20 June 2003.
'In this period, for each 1,000 people aged 70 years and over, provision of residential aged care has remained relatively stable at around 82-83 places per 1,000 people aged 70 years and over,' Ms Peut said.
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