The majority of aged care residents are diagnosed with at least one mental health or behavioural condition while almost a third have high needs in all care domains, a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows.

The proportion of residents diagnosed with a mental health or behavioural condition in 2017-18 (86 per cent) is slightly higher than the previous year (85 per cent), according to the GEN Aged Care Data report released last week.

In 2017-18, almost half of residents were diagnosed with depression (49 per cent), up from 47 per cent in 2016-17 and 46 per cent in 2015-16, and just over half were living with dementia (52 per cent), which was the same as the previous year.

Almost all 180,417 residents had a current Aged Care Funding Instrument assessment in 2017-18 (99.7 per cent) and 31 of per cent of those with a record had a high care-need-rating in all three ACFI assessment areas, which comprise activities of daily living, cognition and behaviour and complex healthcare.

The report found that number of residents with high care needs has been increasing progressively across care domains due to people entering aged care later than in previous years and that the largest proportion of high care needs was the cognition and behaviour domain (see graph).

Almost two-thirds of residents had high cognition and behaviour care needs in 2017-18 (64 per cent), which was slightly higher than the previous year (63 percent), while 59 per cent of residents had high care needs with activities of daily living last year, up from 57 per cent in 2016-17.

However, the proportion of residents with with high complex health care needs fell to 53 per cent in 2017-18 from 55 per cent the previous year. This is due to the January 2017 changes to rating methods for this domain, the report said.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Residents with dementia were much more likely to be have high cognition and behaviour care needs (81 per cent) and high activities of daily living care needs (64 per cent) than those without dementia (46 per cent and 53 per cent respectively), the report found.

Residents without dementia were more likely to be assessed as having high complex healthcare needs (54 per cent) that residents with dementia (52 per cent).

Women were more likely to have high care needs for complex health care (55 per cent) and activities of daily living (61 per cent) than men (50 per cent and 55 per cent respectively), but 64 per cent of women and 64 per of men had high cognition and behaviour care needs.

Residents with non-English speaking backgrounds were more likely to have higher care needs in cognition and behaviour (74 per cent), activities of daily living (67 per cent) and complex health needs (58 per cent) than their English-speaking counterparts (63 per cent, 58 per cent and 52 per cent respectively).

Access the report People’s care needs in aged care here.

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1 Comment

  1. A move to residential care and possibly acceptance of end of life or the existential struggles of dependence is more likely to contribute to depression among older residents. I think there’s a difference in the rates of depression (no evidence as an unexplored area) between users of aged care services. I hope we can start to look at the area of mental health in all Government subsidised aged care services so that people get to live the best possible life!

    I am excited that older people’s mental health (not dementia) is getting more traction these days.

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