The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has collected valuable aged care health services data which will help in key areas of social policy.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has collected valuable aged care health services data which will help in key areas of social policy. AlexRaths

Key aged care health services data now on hand

THE Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) for the first time has examined the use of health services by older people using different types of aged care.

Its report, Interfaces between the aged care and health systems in Australia-first results, provides valuable baseline data on how the use by older Australian of GPs, specialists, prescription medications and hospital services can vary with the use of aged care.

Some of the key findings were:

  • People who used aged care services were more likely to see a GP or specialist, and to use hospital services, than people who did not use aged care. However, the frequency of health care use varied by type of aged care program.
  • Those using community-based care were more likely to have at least one GP visit during the year than people in permanent residential aged care, when they saw a GP, they had fewer visits.
  • People living in permanent residential aged care in 2016-17 averaged 25 GP visits in the year (almost one per fortnight), compared to 17 for people using home support, and 16 for home care.
  • People living in permanent residential aged care were less likely to present at an emergency department or have a hospital admission than people using community-based aged care.
  • People without any aged care were least likely to receive hospital care.
  • Consistent with their respective levels of frailty, people living in permanent residential aged care (10%) were more likely to have at least one hospital admission for a fall-related injury than those using home support or home care (6%), or those people not using any aged care (2%).
  • Older people living in permanent residential aged care in 2016-17 were more likely to have prescriptions dispensed for medications relating to the nervous system, while people living in the community were more commonly prescribed medications related to the cardiovascular system.
  • Compared with people using community-based aged care, people living in permanent residential aged care were more likely to have had at least one antipsychotic prescription dispensed (28%, compared with 4-8%).

"The report looks at people aged 50 and over who used only one type of aged care program in 2016-17, or no aged care at all," AIHW spokesperson Louise York said.

Ms York noted the importance of linking existing data to study how individuals use health and aged care services, and the links between health and aged care.

"This report illustrates the potential power of data to build an evidence base in key areas of social policy," she added.


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