This report presents statistics on the Australian residential aged care system over the period 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007. Residential aged care is one of the main types of formal care available for frail or disabled older Australians whose care needs are such that they can no longer remain in their own homes.

Aged care provision

At 30 June 2007, there were 170,071 residential aged care places, an increase of 3,780 compared with 30 June 2006. The current planning target for residential aged care provision is 88 places per 1,000 persons aged 70 years and over. The number of operational places available in residential aged care at 30 June 2007 was 87.0 places per 1,000 persons which was slightly less than the 87.2 available at 30 June 2006.

Including other aged care programs also covered by the Aged Care Act 1997, the corresponding ratio of available places and packages increased from 107.7 to 109.7 during the 12 month period to 30 June 2007, relative to the new overall planning target of 113 places and packages per 1,000 persons aged 70 or over, which is to be achieved by June 2011.

Resident characteristics

The age profile of the resident population continues to increase. Over half (54%) of the 156,549 residents at 30 June 2007 were aged 85 years or older, and over one-quarter (27%) were aged 90 years and over. Overall, only 4%of residents were less than 65 years of age.

Residential aged care is meeting the care needs of an increasingly more dependent group of people. By far, the majority of residents at 30 June 2007 were assessed as high-care (70%). By way of contrast, 58% of residents were classified as high-care in 1998. In addition, 62% of permanent residents who were admitted during 2006–07 were high-care.

A very small proportion of permanent residents identified as being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (0.6%), although this proportion is much higher in the Northern Territory, where 38% of permanent residents are Indigenous.

Over one-quarter of permanent residents (27%) were born overseas, with 11% born in the United Kingdom and Ireland and another 11% born in other areas of Europe. Almost 15,000 permanent residents preferred to speak a language other then English.

Patterns of use

There were 103,183 admissions to residential aged care between 1 July 2006 and 30 June 2007; 52,196 were for permanent care and the remainder for shorter-term respite care. During the same period there were 51,026 separations from permanent care, with the most common reason for separation being death (88%).

On average, the length of time people are spending in residential aged care is increasing. The average completed length of stay for permanent residents who left residential aged care during 2006–07 was 145.9 weeks compared with 131.3 weeks in 1998–99. Length of stay was longer for women (167.1 weeks) than for men (109.9 weeks).