In 2016–17, nearly 900,000 people aged 50 and over used aged care services. People who use aged care also routinely use health care services, such as those provided by general practitioners (GPs), medical specialists and hospitals, and have medicines dispensed to them. These patterns of service use can be complex and influenced by many factors, such as the person’s age, health status and location.
This report presents initial findings from a project that linked data across aged care and health services. These examine how people’s use of primary care, patterns of prescription dispensing, and the rate and nature of their hospital use can vary with use of aged care.
In bringing these separate sources of information together, we develop the capacity to present a more comprehensive picture—one that better reflects the actual use of these systems. However, this report does not set out to cover all interactions between aged care and health services, or represent all people who use aged care. This report presents some first results to highlight the kinds of insights that can be gained from linking routinely collected administrative data. It concludes by providing an overview of possible future analyses using the linked data together with information about data gaps and limitations.
The report focuses on 4 groups of people aged 50 and over who had used only 1 type of aged care program during 2016–17, or no aged care at all. In general, we found that people who used age 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—generally, people in permanent residential aged care were less likely to see a GP or specialist or have a hospital separation than people who used community-based aged care. When people in permanent residential aged care were admitted to hospital, it was more likely to be related to an injury or fall than for people who used community-based aged care.
Compared with people using home support or home care, in 2016–17, people in permanent residential aged care were:
- less likely to have had at least 1 GP attendance (92%, compared with 96%–98%)—although they still averaged 1 GP attendance a fortnight
- more likely to have had at least 1 antipsychotic prescription dispensed (28%, compared with 4%–8%)
- less likely to have had an emergency department presentation (32%, compared with 37%–38%) or a hospital separation (37%, compared with 51%–58%)
- more likely to have had at least 1 hospital separation for a fall-related injury (10%, compared with 6%).