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One in 10 residents are first-time users of aged care system

Home support programs are the most common entry point into the aged care system and also the most common pathway into permanent residential aged care, according to analysis from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The AIHW analysed the aged care program use of people who entered permanent residential aged care for the first time in 2013–14 to show the journeys people take through the system.

It has done this by linking administrative data for a number of national aged care programs to create an analysis data set known as the Pathways in Aged Care link map.

According to the analysis published at the end of September, 61,332 people first entered permanent residential aged care in 2013–14.

In the preceding years, these new residents used over 1,000 different combinations of other aged care services accessed through Home and Community Care (HACC), the home care packages program (HCP), Transition Care Program (TCP) and respite residential aged care (RRAC).

HACC, which includes both Commonwealth and its Victorian and Western Australian equivalents, was the entry point into the aged care system for 76 per cent of new residents in 2013-14.

The five most common pathways into permanent residential aged care (PRAC) accounted for almost two-thirds of people. Source: AIHW

Respite (39 per cent) and HACC (36 per cent) were the most common programs used last before entering permanent care followed by TCP (8 per cent) and HCP (7 per cent).

One in 10 new residents had not used any other aged care program before entering permanent care.

“Many of the pathways showed that people moved through aged care programs towards progressively higher levels of support,” the analysis said.

Last-program influencers

Compared to other programs, people who used no other aged care programs before their first entry to permanent care were more likely to be male (51 per cent), aged under 65, and have limitations in all four core areas – self-care, moving, movement and communication – and less likely to have lived alone.

People who had last used TCP were more likely to have lived alone, been diagnosed with heart or cerebrovascular disease or experienced frequent falls, compared to other programs, it found.

People’s cultural background also influenced how they used aged care. While 7 in 10 of the cohort were born in Australia, the proportions varied depending on which program was used last.

People who were born in Australia made up a slightly lower proportion of those who last used TCP (62 per cent) compared to those with no prior aged care use (68 per cent) or who last used packages (69 per cent) or HACC or respite (71 per cent).

Of those who last used TCP, or who entered permanent care with no other prior use of aged care services, a lower proportion spoke English at home (88 per cent for both) compared with 92 per cent of those who last used HACC, packages or respite.

Access the report here.

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