Aged care and hospitals are key parts of the continuum of care that many older people require. However, existing hospital and aged care data are collected separately and do not provide sufficient information about people using both services or the pathways between them.

This report uses a purpose-built linked dataset that includes Australian Government-funded aged care services (both residential and community-based aged care) and public and private hospital data for Victoria and Queensland. These 2 states in scope for this project account for a similar share of activity in both the aged care and the hospital systems in Australia.

Looking at hospital stays for these 2 jurisdictions, and aged care service use before and after the hospital stay, sheds light on how people move across these systems. Across Victoria and Queensland, there were 1.2 million same-day and 655,000 overnight hospital stays for people aged 65 and over in 2016–17.

Of the overnight stays:

  • 4 in 10 (40%) had some aged care use before and/or after
  • almost 1 in 14 (7.2%) were preceded by use of permanent residential aged care
  • 1 in 10 (10%) used aged care at a higher level after the hospital stay than before it
  • more than 4 in 10 (45%) began in emergency departments
  • about 1 in 16 (6.3%) were for a fall-related injury
  • 1 in 25 (4.0%) ended in death.

To increase transparency and support further research into the pathways between aged care and hospital, this report is accompanied by a technical paper that provides a detailed account of the methods. Interfaces between the aged care and health systems in Australia—movements between aged care and hospital 2016–17: technical document explains how the data were processed, the definitions developed, and the movements between aged care and hospital identified. Data are available in the supplementary tables.