More than a third of seniors in remote regions and the majority in very remote areas move more than 100 kilometres for permanent residential aged care, a new report from the aged care royal commission shows.

Most very remote seniors need to drive more than an hour for residential care (53 per cent), according to the aged care royal commission’s latest research paper, which looks at how people access aged care.

Their counterparts living in metropolitan areas, were much less likely to move more than 100 kilometres to access permanent residential care (5 per cent or drive more than 60 minutes (6 per cent).

Research Paper 16 – How far do people move to access aged care?, which was released on Wednesday evening, analyses how far people move to access permanent residential aged care or respite care services.

It was conducted by the Office of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety with estimates based on people accessing services as at 30 June 2019.

The report found that people living in remote and very remote areas much more likely to  move more than 100 kilometres to access permanent residential aged care than any other group (34 per cent and 53 per cent respectively) followed by those living in regional and rural areas ( 10 per cent to 16 per cent).

Most people in metropolitan regions accessed permanent residential care within 25 kilometres of where they lived (84 per cent).

Source: Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people move further than non-indigenous residents to access permanent residential aged care if they live in metropolitan or rural areas but this is not usually the case if living in remote or very remote regions.

Younger people living in metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas tended to move further to enter residential aged care than older people, except for those living in very remote areas.

The trends are similar for accessing respite care.

Just under half of older people living in very remote areas (47 per cent) and a quarter in remote regions (26 per cent) travel over 100 kilometres for respite care compared to far fewer people in rural (8 to 9 per cent), regional (5 per cent) and metropolitan (2 per cent) areas.

Most people in metropolitan (90 per cent) and regional (84 per cent) areas travel less than 25 kilometres of people in regional areas.

The distance  to access aged care is an indicator of how well the aged care system meets the needs of different regions, the report said.

However, the report recognises that several reasons may influence where people access aged care, such as to live closer to loved ones.

“People who need aged care are better able to maintain social connections with family and friends, informal support from these people, and connection with country if they can access aged care services near to the place they live,” the report said.

“How far people move to access aged care could be routinely estimated in the future using data that is administratively collected by the Government,” the report said.

“This data is collected for all people who use aged care services and could become a stronger indicator if reasons for moving were collected. Such information could assist with future planning and development of aged care services in Australia.”

Access the report here.

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