The number of Community Aged Care Packages provided to older Australians who might otherwise be eligible for 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 2003-04: A Statistical Overview reports that there were 29,063 Community Aged Care Packages at the end of the 2003-04 financial year, an increase of 1,182 packages from the previous year.
This equates to 15.6 packages per 1,000 people aged 70 years and over at 30 June 2004, compared to 15.3 a year earlier.
Ann Peut, Head of the 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 Australian Government in 1992 to provide assistance for frail or disabled older people so they could continue living within the community.
'Packages are filling a need in the community because take-up is very high,' Ms Peut said.
In the year to 30 June 2004, there were 14,425 admissions to Community Aged Care Packages and 13,357 separations.
'Among those who stopped using a package during that period, 48% 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 2004 were aged 80 years and over. Those aged 90 years and over accounted for 14% of recipients. Female care recipients outnumbered male recipients by more than two to one.
Among recipients who had their living arrangements reported, 52% lived alone, and 38% lived with family.
Ms Peut said the growth in the number of Community Aged Care Packages was consistent with the wishes of many older Australians, who, although needing some care and support, preferred to remain living in the community.
'In addition, the relatively new Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH) program is an ongoing element in the delivery of aged care services. The program complements Community Aged Care Packages and is designed to provide assistance to people living in the community who would be eligible for high level residential aged care.'
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