Government’s big fail on young people in aged care homes

3 minute read

A new report has revealed the government has missed two of three targets and is likely to miss the third.

New data from the AIHW has delivered a disappointing report card on the federal government’s plan to keep young people out of residential aged care facilities.

The government committed to the Younger People in Residential Aged Care Targets to reduce the number of young people living in aged care homes but is yet to deliver on a single target.

The targets (outside of exceptional circumstances) include:

  1. No people under the age of 65 entering residential aged care by 2022.
  2. No people under the age of 45 living in residential aged care by 2022.
  3. No people under the age of 65 living in residential aged care by 2025.

The AIHW data has revealed that the government has fallen short of meeting the first two targets.

The report showed that from April to June 2023, 72 people aged under 65 years across Australia were admitted to permanent residential aged care homes. This is a 29.4% decrease from the same period in 2022 but still falls well short of target one.

The state-by-state breakdown of those 72 admissions is NSW (24), Queensland (20), Victoria (14), Western Australia (5), South Australia (3) and Tasmania (4).

No states or territories met the first target, but both the ACT and NT only admitted one person under 65 years and the ACT admitted no patients under 65 years in April-June 2022). However, this was likely partly due to their smaller population, the AIHW report said.  

Except for the ACT and SA (which stayed stable), all states recorded a decrease in the number of patients aged under 65 years who were admitted in April-June 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Western Australia and Victoria recorded significant decreases, 50% and 48.1% respectively.

The news wasn’t much better when it came to the second target.

On 30 June 2023, there were 38 people aged under 45 years living permanently in residential aged care homes, a 44.1% decrease from the same date in 2022.

This included 21 in Victoria, eight in NSW, four in Queensland, two each in Western Australia and South Australia, and one in Tasmania. The target was met in the ACT and NT in both 2022 and 2023.

Four states recorded decreases greater than 50%: Tasmania (66.7%), NSW (60%), Queensland (55.6%) and South Australia (60%).

It remains to be seen whether the third target will be met by 2025, but the statistics are not delivering a huge amount of hope.

On 30 June 2023, there were 2067 people aged under 65 years living in residential aged care homes, a 29.6% decrease from the same date in 2022.

All jurisdictions except for the ACT (which increased by 12.5%) decreased their 2023 figure between 25-35%. However, if Australia continues to follow the 2022-2023 trend, a yearly decrease of 29.6%, it is going to fall short of the target. Using this trend, there will be 1024 people under 65 years still living in residential aged care homes on 30 June 2025.

There are NDIS supports available for people under 65 years in aged care accommodation provided they live with a permanent disability. The NDIS can fund and support patients to find different accommodation better suited for their needs, in addition to paying aged care fees and disability-related supports and services.

Additionally, Ability First Australia is able to support non-disabled patients, acknowledging that outside of exceptional circumstances, aged care is not a suitable place for a younger person to live. 

The AIHW data doesn’t discriminate between admissions based on “exceptional circumstances”, but this information would help paint a clearer picture, especially in jurisdictions like the ACT and NT with few admissions.

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