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Journal article

Young people in Australian residential aged care: evaluating trends from 2008 to 2018

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Residential care Aged care Youth Australia

Objective: Over the past decade, various programs and reforms have targeted the issue of people aged 65 years living in ‘permanent’ residential aged care (PRAC). As context for ongoing policy discourse, the aim of this study was to evaluate trends in rates of young people entering and leaving PRAC from 2008 to 2018.

Methods: Counts of people aged 65 years entering, remaining in and exiting PRAC were obtained from the National Aged Care Data Clearinghouse. Age standardisation was used to control for changes in the age and size of the Australian population. Annual age-standardised rates of admissions (subtracting transfers) and exits to the community were calculated. Linear regression models tested for a sustained increase or decrease in age-standardised rates nationally and within state and age subgroups.

Results: Notwithstanding year-to-year variation, neither admissions (subtracting transfers) nor exits to the community showed statistically significant increasing or decreasing trends in the national age-standardised rates. Admission rates varied by age and state.

Conclusions: Many more young people are admitted to PRAC each year than return to community living, with no sustained change between 2008 and 2018 at the national level. Age standardisation is crucial for evaluating systemic population-level change regarding younger people in PRAC.

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