An Introduction: Aged Care Residential (Nursing Home) Accommodation
Moving into Aged Care residential accommodation represents a very significant decision for any individual, and often their families. Although there are support services which assist this can be a complex transition for both individuals and their carers. In common with the rest of the website, we try and address these issues in very general terms in the following web pages so that you are better prepared for discussion with either Centrelink or professionals advisors.
Be aware that funding for residential aged care is a Federal Government responsibility and consequently standard rules and processes apply throughout Australia. Providing comprehensive care in an aged care home is a complex and very expensive activity, most of the funding for which is provided by the Federal Government. As a result, access to these services is dependent upon individual's meeting qualifying criteria set by the Government, and the government will look to individuals to assist in providing some portion of the costs, if they have the capacity.
While we have all seen reports about the increasing cost of providing aged care services, driven by an ageing population and health issues, what is not normally appreciated, is that the great bulk of Australian's aged 65+ either continue to care for themselves in their own accommodation, independent of government assistance, or do so with some element of home assistance. For most people, moving into aged care accommodation is not an option which they actively seek, but one which is driven by health issues. The Table below illustrates that only a relatively small proportion of Australian will move into residential care, although this may increase over time with longevity.
Also, the average entry age to both residential aged care and home care might also surprise - the 2016–17 Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act 1997 indicates that:
- The average age on admission to permanent residential aged care was 82.0 years for men and 84.6 years for women.
- For entry to a home care package the average was 79.6 years for men and 80.5 years for women
Consequently, aged care residential accommodation is not the inevitable consequence of ageing, and domestic support within a private dwelling is much more likely except at very advanced ages. As we mention elsewhere, the average length of stay in a residential aged care home is around 3.5 years, reflecting the fact that significant health issues are normally the main driver for entry into a home.