The Commonwealth Government's 2011 target of 88 operational residential aged care places for every 1,000 people aged 70 years and older is already close to being met, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
'The actual provision ratio as at 30 June 2008 has been calculated at 87.7,' said Ann Peut, Head of the Institute's Ageing and Aged Care Unit.
The Residential Aged Care in Australia 2007-08 report also shows that the trend towards fewer but larger facilities is continuing, and that length of stay for permanent residents is continuing to rise.
At the end of June 2008 there were around 175,500 beds in operation in Australia, almost 5,500 more than the previous year.
During 2007-08 there were over 105,000 admissions to residential aged care compared with almost 103,200 the previous year.
Almost half the admissions were for respite care, which had an average length of stay of just over 3 weeks.
The average length of stay for permanent residents who left residential aged care during 2007-08 (most commonly because they died) was 148 weeks. It was about 146 weeks in 2006-07, and 131 weeks in 1998-99.
The report includes new data from the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) which was implemented in March 2008. The ACFI is used to measure residents' need for care rather than the care provided, and enables, for the first time, reporting of health conditions affecting permanent residents.
At 30 June 2008 just over three-quarters of the 47,000 residents with an ACFI appraisal were classified as high care. Almost half the 47,000 had a recorded diagnosis of dementia.
Other recorded health conditions affecting ACFI-assessed residents included circulatory diseases (14,000 residents), and diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (8,200 residents).