An exploration of healthcare use in older people waiting for and receiving Australian community-based aged care services

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Aim: Home care packages (HCPs) facilitate older individuals to remain at home, with longer HCP wait times associated with increased mortality risk. We analyze healthcare cost data pre- and post-HCP access to inform hypotheses around the effects of healthcare use and mortality risk. Methods: Regression models were used to assess the impact of delayed HCP access on healthcare costs and to compare costs whilst waiting and in the 6- and 12 month periods post-HCP access for 16 629 older adults. Results: Average wait time for a HCP was 89.7 days (SD = 125.6) during the study period. Wait-time length had no impact on any healthcare cost category or time period. However, total per day healthcare costs were higher in the 6 and 12 months post-receipt of a HCP (AU$61.5, AU$63, respectively) compared with those in the time waiting for a HCP (AU$48.1). Inpatient care accounted for a higher proportion of total healthcare costs post-HCP (AU$45.1, AU$46.3, respectively) compared with in the wait time (AU$30.6), whilst spending on medical services and pharmaceuticals reduced slightly in the 6 month (AU$7.1, AU$6.3) and 12 month (AU$7.2, AU$6.3) post-HCP periods compared with in the wait time (AU$7.9, AU$7.1). Conclusions: Increased spending post-HCP on inpatient care or non-health support afforded by HCPs may offer protective effects for mortality and risk of admission to aged care. Further research should explore the association between delayed access to inpatient care for geriatric syndromes and mortality to inform recommendations on extensions to residential care outreach services into the community to improve the timely identification of the need for inpatient care. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2023; 23: 899–905.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-905
Number of pages7
JournalGeriatrics and Gerontology International
Issue number12
Early online date20 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • aged care
  • healthcare costs
  • home-care package
  • older Australians
  • wait time


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