More evidence has emerged of the increasing care needs of people living in residential aged care, with three quarters of permanent residents assessed as high care in 2008-09.
A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that government policy is beginning to reflect this trend. Over 3,700 of the 5,748 beds allocated in 2008-09 were high care places.
The total number of residential aged care places rose by more than 3,000 to 178,000 during the period and it is estimated that government spending on aged care facilities reached $6.5 billion.
The AIHW report confirmed industry concerns about occupancy rates in aged care facilities, noting that they had been in decline since 2003-03.
The average national occupancy rate in 2008-09 was 93 per cent, down from 94 per cent in the previous year.
The average length of stay for permanent residents leaving aged care services was 147 weeks, or just under three years.
However, 38 per cent of residents who left permanent residential aged care in 2008-09 had been there for less than a year.
Across the country Extra Service places accounted for just six per cent of aged care beds and almost two thirds of them were in NSW and Victoria.
“The majority of Extra Service places were in major cities (86 per cent),” the report said. “A small proportion of the places were located in inner and outer regional areas (12 per cent and two per cent respectively).”
A separate report on community aged care showed that supply had increased across the full range of federally funded aged care packages.
It noted that more than a third of community aged care clients were born overseas, while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely to use community aged care services than their non-Indigenous counterparts.