Aged Care – demographic challenge

sres Bupa profit aged careRecent media reports of appalling conditions in some aged-care facilities led to yet another independent inquiry, the Carnell review, which found that little had changed since the kerosene baths scandal of 2000. Yet the federal government has so far pledged to act on just one of Carnell’s ten recommendations. Meanwhile, important proposals from previous reviews have gone unimplemented.

Australia has around 2700 accredited residential aged-care facilities. Together, in 2015–16, they provided care to 234,931 permanent residents, the majority of whom required high levels of care. Although most older Australians prefer to receive services in their own homes, a whole range of factors — including longer lives, dementia, and the inability of working families to provide care — mean that increasing numbers will eventually move into residential care.

Naturally, that likelihood increases with age. The average age of entry to permanent residential care in 2015–16 was 82.0 years for men and 84.5 years for women (up from 79.5 years and 82.8 years respectively twenty years earlier). Eighty-three per cent of these new residents needed high-level care, compared to less than 60 per cent in 1997–98, mainly because of rising rates of dementia.

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