Aged care is the support provided to older people who need help in their own home or who can no longer live at home. Australia’s aged care system comprises a range of services from basic supports to enable people to remain independent at home, through to living in a residential aged care facility with access to full-time care.
The majority of aged care is provided to people in their homes (or elsewhere in a community setting), reflecting people’s preferences to remain living in their community for as long as possible, but the greatest proportion of aged care spending is on residential aged care. During 2020-21, approximately 1.5 million people received support from aged care services in Australia, with the Australian Government spending over $23.6 billion on aged care, with nearly 60% spent on residential aged care alone.
Aged care services are operated by more than 3,200 aged care providers across not-for-profit (religious, charitable and community), government, or private organisations. During 2020-21 not-for-profit organisations operated the majority of aged care services across Australia (55% of residential aged care, 64% of home care, and 69% of home support).
More than 330,000 people are employed in direct care roles in Australia’s aged care sector, with an additional 43,000 people in other aged care roles. Australia’s population is expected to grow and to change over coming decades. Australians are living longer, and that trend is expected to continue, leading to a rapid increase in the number of older Australians. That has implications for the demand for aged care. With older Australians making up a greater share of the community there will be increasing demands on the sector.
By 2050, the aged care workforce is expected to grow to more than one million people to meet this forecast demand for services.