Older Australians moving over 100km to access residential aged care in regional areas, Royal Commission research finds

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People in non-metropolitan regions move more than 100 kilometres, or drive for more than 60 minutes, from their home when they begin permanent residential aged care or use respite in an aged care facility, according to the Royal Commission’s 16th research paper.

The 28-page paper ‘How far do people move to access aged care?’ looks at people accessing aged care services on 30 June 2019 using Department of Health data.

Check out the graph below.

As you can see, the share of people in regional and rural areas that moved over 100 kilometres to enter permanent residential care ranged between 10% and 16%.

This increased to 34% among the people who had been living in remote regions and 53% among those who had been living in very remote regions.

The numbers were similar for people living in non-metropolitan to use residential respite services.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely to move further than other people to enter residential aged care if they were living in metropolitan or rural areas – but moved less distance if they were living in remote or very remote regions.

Younger people living in aged care homes also tended to have moved further than older people in all regions except for very remote communities.

As you would expect, only a small portion of the people who were accessing home care had moved between the time of their ACAT assessment and when they began to receive home care – usually 25 kilometres or less.

The Royal Commission says that the findings can be a useful indicator of how well the aged care system meets the needs of different regions and groups of people, even though some people may have moved for a variety of reasons other than aged care, such as returning to live closer to their loved ones.

“How far people move to access aged care could be routinely estimated in the future using data that is administratively collected by the Government,” they conclude. “This data is collected for all people who use aged care services and could become a stronger indicator if reasons for moving were collected. Such information could assist with future planning and development of aged care services in Australia.”

One of the major sticking points during the Royal Commission hearings has been the lack of data and analysis by the Government – will the Commissioners recommend the Commonwealth expand its collection of key metrics?

You can download the paper here.


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