Trends in the utilisation of aged care services in Australia, 2008-2016

Jyoti Khadka, Catherine Lang, Julie Ratcliffe, Megan Corlis, Steve Wesselingh, Craig Whitehead, Maria Inacio

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Background: Aged care support services in Australia are delivered through home care packages, permanent residential care, respite care and transition care. This study aimed to determine age and gender specific incidence rates of aged care service utilisation in Australia between 2008-09 and 2015-16. Methods: This is a population-based epidmiological study of people accessing aged care services in Australia. The trends and characteristics of people (over the age of 65 years old) accessing aged care services in Australia were evaluated, using data (2008-09 and 2015-16) from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Australian Bureau of Statistics. The yearly utilisation incidence rates (per 1000 people) per service type were calculated and changes in incidence rate ratios (IRR) of service utilisation for the study period were estimated using Poisson regression models. Results: The proportion of older Australians aged ≥65 years who used aged care services remained similar between 2008-09 (5.4%, N = 208,247) and 2015-16 (5.6%, N = 248,669). However, the incidence use of specific services changed during the study period. Specifically, admissions into permanent residential care decreased (from 23.8/1000 people in 2008-09 to 19.6/1000 in 2015-16, at a IRR of 0.84/year, p < 0.001) but increased for transition care (from 4.3/1000 in 2008-09 to 6.6/1000 in 2015-16, at a IRR of 1.57/year, p < 0.001) and home care packages (from 8.04/1000 in 2008-09 to 12.0/1000 per 1000 in 2015-16, at a IRR of 1.52/year, p < 0.001). Between 2008-09 and 2015-16, the greatest changes in IRR were observed in males aged 80-89 years accessing transition care (IRR = 1.68/year, p < 0.001). A higher proportion of people aged between 80-89 years (≥45%), females (≥60%), Australia born (≥ 60%) and English speakers (≥80%) used all the service types. Conclusions: Patterns of service utilisation for aged care services changed over the study period with a decrease in incidence of individuals accessing permanent residential care but increased for other service types. This finding reflects changes in attitudes regarding ageing in place and policies. These findings are helpful to inform key stakeholders on service planning to further improve quality of the aged-care services in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number213
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

(CC-BY 4.0) Open Access article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license (


  • Aged care
  • Home care
  • Incidence rate
  • Permanent residential care
  • Respite care
  • Transition care
  • Utilisation


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