Objective: Government expenditure on and the number of aged care facilities in Australia have increased consistently since 1995. As a result, a range of aged care policy changes have been implemented. Data on demographics and utilisation are important in determining the effects of policy on residential aged care services. Yet, there are surprisingly few statistical summaries in the peer-reviewed literature on the profile of Australian aged care residents or trends in service utilisation. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to characterise the demographic profile and utilisation of a large cohort of residential aged care residents, including trends over a 3-year period. Methods: We collected 3 years of data (2011-14) from 77 residential aged care facilities and assessed trends and differences across five demographic and three service utilisation variables. Results: The median age at admission over the 3-year period remained constant at 86 years. There were statistically significant decreases in separations to home (z=2.62, P=0.009) and a 1.35% increase in low care admissions. Widowed females made up the majority (44.75%) of permanent residents, were the oldest and had the longest lengths of stay. One-third of permanent residents had resided in aged care for 3 years or longer. Approximately 30% of residents were not born in Australia. Aboriginal residents made up less than 1% of the studied population, were younger and had shorter stays than non-Aboriginal residents. Conclusion: The analyses revealed a clear demographic profile and consistent pattern of utilisation of aged care facilities. There have been several changes in aged care policy over the decades. The analyses outlined herein illustrate how community, health services and public health data can be used to inform policy, monitor progress and assess whether intended policy has had the desired effects on aged care services.
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- residential aged care facilities
- aged care
- nursing homes