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Providers, services and places in aged care

Australia’s aged care system provides care and support to people in a variety of settings.

Last updated: 27 April 2021

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Contents

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For a downloadable summary of the information in this topic, view the Providers, services and places in aged care factsheet.

Related information can be found on other GEN topic pages: For more information about providers, services and places in aged care, view the Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act.
For a list of services in Australia, view the Aged care service list.
 

Providers, services and places in Australia

A provider (or organisation) manages an aged care service. Providers may operate a number of different services, sometimes across different aged care programs. A service is a care facility that provides aged care, such as residential care or home care. A service can also be an outlet that provides home support. The Australian government provides funding for those services that it has approved.

Residential and flexible care services are allocated a set number of government-funded places (or ‘beds’). When they are counted they can be either occupied by an approved care recipient, or available to be occupied. In 2019–20, the average occupancy rate across all residential aged care places was 88%.

For more information on managing supply and demand of aged care places, see the Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act or the Stocktake of Australian Government Subsidised Aged Care Places.
 

At 30 June 2020 (or during the 2019–20 financial year for home support):
  • 1,452 providers were providing home support through 3,724 outlets.
  • 920 providers were delivering home care through 2,650 services.
  • 845 providers were delivering residential aged care through 2,722 services.
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The aged care system offers a continuum of care under three main types of service:
  • Home support (Commonwealth Home Support Programme), which provides entry-level services focused on supporting individuals to undertake tasks of daily living to enable them to be more independent at home and in the community.
  • Home care (Home Care Packages Program), which is a more structured, more comprehensive package of home-based support, provided over four levels.
  • Residential aged care, which provides support and accommodation for people who have been assessed as needing higher levels of care than can be provided in the home, and the option for 24-hour nursing care. Residential care is provided on either a permanent, or a temporary (respite) basis.
There are also several types of flexible care available that extend across the spectrum from home support to residential aged care:
  • Transition care, which provides short-term care to restore independent living after a hospital stay
  • Short-term restorative care, which expands on transition care to include anyone whose capacity to live independently is at risk
  • Multi-purpose services, which offer aged care alongside health services in Regional and remote areas
  • Innovative Care Programme, which includes a range of programs to support flexible ways of providing care to target population groups
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program, which provides culturally-appropriate aged care at home and in the community.
For more information on aged care services in Australia see the Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act, or visit the Department of Health website.
A table shows the number of aged care providers, services and places for each care type. The largest number of aged care providers was for home support, with 1,452 providers. Home care had the second largest number of aged care providers, 920. The largest number of aged care places was in Residential aged care, 217,145.
Data interpretation
From February 2017, government funding for home care is no longer attached to a place in a particular service. This affects some of the time series data for this topic.
The location of the service is a base from which care is delivered, so services for home care and home support can deliver care some distance away from the physical location of a service.

Management of aged care services

Aged care services are operated by not-for-profit (religious, charitable and community), government, or private organisations. In most cases, the Australian Government contributes towards the cost of care—you can read more about this in the Spending topic.
 

At 30 June 2020 (or during the 2019–20 financial year for home support):
  • Not-for-profit organisations operated the majority of aged care services across Australia (57% of residential aged care, 70% of home care, and 69% of home support).
  • Private organisations operated the second highest number of residential aged care (34%) and home care (22%) services, but only 8% of home support services.
  • Government organisations operated the fewest number of residential aged care (9%) and home care (8%) services, but almost a quarter of home support services (24%).
  • Victoria had the highest proportion of private (43%) and government-run (21%) residential aged care services.
  • The Northern Territory (92%), Tasmania (82%) and the Australian Capital Territory (80%) had the highest proportion of not-for-profit-run residential aged care services.
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A stacked bar graph shows the number of aged care services in each care type grouped by provider type and by geography (state and territory, and Australia total). The majority of residential aged care places in Australia were funded by not-for-profit organisations, 57 per cent. Victoria had the highest proportion of private and government-funded residential care facilities.

Services and places over time

Residential and flexible aged care programs are allocated a set number of government-funded places. The Australian Government manages the supply of aged care places by specifying a national target provision ratio of subsidised aged care places. This approach aims to grow the supply of aged care places in proportion to the growth in the older population. This means that more populated areas have larger numbers of aged care places available.
 

At 30 June 2020 (or during the 2019–20 financial year for home support):
  • The number of residential and flexible aged care places had increased by approximately 11% over the 4 years since 30 June 2016—from 204,288 to 227,534 places.
  • The number of home support services had increased by 10% over the 3 years since 30 June 2017—from 3,392 to 3,724 services.
  • The number of home care services had increased by 25% over the 4 years since 30 June 2016—from 2,113 to 2,650 services.
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A column graph shows the number of aged care providers, services and places for each care type between 2016 and 2020. Residential aged care services increased from 2,669 in 2016 to 2,722 in 2020. Home care services increased from 2,113 in 2016 to 2,650 in 2020. The number of home support outlets increased from 3,392 in 2016–2017 to 3,724 in 2019–2020.
For more information on aged care services in Australia see the Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act, Aged care Stocktake data, the Aged care service list and the Aged care data snapshot.

Provision and management of aged care over time

Highly populated states and territories have larger numbers of aged care places, as a specific number of aged care places are subsidised for every 1,000 people in the target population (that is, all people aged 65 and over and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians aged 50–64 years).

Between 30 June 2012 and 30 June 2020:
  • Privately run residential aged care services grew the most, with the number of places they were funded to manage increasing by 35% (from 66,335 to 89,439 places).
  • The number of government-funded National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP) places per 1,000 people in the target population increased from 4.4 to 9.9 in the Northern Territory. The NATSIFACP is a prominent part of aged care service provision in the Northern Territory.
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A stacked area graph shows the number of aged care places and the places per 1,000 people in the target population, for each care type, state, organisation type and year (2012–2020). The graph allows the user to filter the data by care type and state. In residential care, services managed by private organisations have seen the most growth between 2012 and 2020, 35 per cent.

Size of residential aged care services over time

Privately run residential aged care services are more commonly larger services, while government-run services tend to be smaller services.

At 30 June 2020:
  • More than half (57%) of residential aged care places operated by private organisations were in services that were large (101 or more operational places), compared with 43% of places operated by not-for-profit organisations, and 13% of places operated by government organisations.
  • The number of places operated by large privately run residential aged care services had more than doubled since 30 June 2010 (an increase of 119%, from 23,130 to 50,701 places). This increase was larger than the equivalent increases in the number of places in large not-for-profit services (73% increase in places) and large government-run services (34% decrease in places).
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A stacked area graph shows the number of places in residential care for each organisation, service size and year (2010–2020). In 2020, more than half (57 per cent) of residential aged care places operated by private organisations were in a service that offered 101 or more places.

States and territories

The map below shows where Australia’s aged care services are located. Each dot represents an aged care service, and the colour reflects the type of care it offers (see above for a description of these types of care). The location of the service is a base from which care is delivered, so services for home care and home support can deliver care some distance away from the physical location of the service marked on the map. (Note: home support services on this map are shown if they were active during the financial year 2019–20, while all other services are as at 30 June 2020).

Overall:
  • Aged care services were concentrated in more densely populated urban areas.
  • Some services such as home care and home support were more frequently located outside of the densely populated urban areas (where residential aged care is less common).
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A map of Australia shows the number and location of aged care services grouped by care type and geography (state and territory). Residential aged care services are mostly located along Australia’s Eastern coastline.

Remoteness

The availability of aged care services differs as a function of remoteness, with most aged care services located in major cities.

At 30 June 2020 (or during the 2019–20 financial year for home support):
  • Almost two-thirds (62%) of residential aged care services were located in metropolitan areas (MM 1), compared with 21% located in rural, remote or very remote areas (MM 4–7).
  • Over one-quarter (26%) of home support services were located in rural, remote or very remote areas (MM 4–7), compared with 16% of home care services.
  • Almost half (45%) of other flexible care services, which includes the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program, were located in remote and very remote areas (MM 6–7), compared to just 4% located in metropolitan areas (MM 1).
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The Modified Monash Model (MMM) is one of several classifications for defining whether a location is a city, rural, remote or very remote. People living in more remote areas can find it harder to get medical or other help or support services. Understanding the MMM classification can inform planning decisions by enabling a better understanding of where current and future demand for services is most likely and how this relates to the supply of services and workforce across regions.
 
The model measures remoteness and population size on a scale of Modified Monash (MM) category MM 1 to MM 7. MM 1 is a metropolitan area, including Australia’s major cities, and MM 7 is a very remote community, such as Longreach.

From January 2020, Department of Health programs are transitioning to use the MMM classification. You can learn more about MMM on the  Department of Health's website.
 
A horizontal stacked bar graph shows the proportion of aged care services by the care type and remoteness. Almost half (45%) of other flexible care services, which includes the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program, were located in remote and very remote areas (MM 6–7), compared to just 4% located in metropolitan areas (MM 1).

Explore providers, services and places in aged care

Use the interactive table below to explore the number of aged care services by care type, organisation type, service size, and geography (Aged Care Planning Regions and MMM remoteness).

If you wish to access a confidentialised dataset that provides selected information about residential aged care, home care, and flexible care services in Australia by state and territory and Aged Care Planning Region, please see the relevant Confidentialised Unit Record File available on GEN. 

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A table shows the number of aged care services and operational aged care places by service size, remoteness, organisation type and geography (Aged Care Planning Regions).

COVID-19 and aged care provision

Australia has faced significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 illness can be more serious for people who have pre-existing health conditions, including older Australians.

COVID-19 affected health in many ways and this necessitated changes in the delivery of aged care services. Residential aged care services were required to lockdown and restrict visitors. For people in residential aged care who could temporarily return to community living, ‘emergency leave’ was available to be taken and up to eight weeks of home support was provided. Older people living in the community were encouraged to seek health care remotely through telehealth services, and a number of temporary Medicare items were added to support people financially.

For more information regarding resources for aged care providers during COVID-19, see the Department of Health website. For further information related to older Australians and COVID-19, including access to care types, see the Australian Government’s My Aged Care website. For more on government aged care spending during COVID-19, see the Spending on aged care GEN topic page.
 


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