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What is aged care?

Aged care is the support provided to older people in their own home or in an aged care (nursing) home. It can include help with everyday living, health care, accommodation and equipment such as walking frames or ramps. Government-funded aged care services are available to eligible people.

Support for older people as they age

As you get older, it can become harder to do things on your own. You may need help with cleaning, health problems or moving about.

Aged care is the support provided to older people who need help in their own home or who can no longer live at home. It can include:

  • help with everyday living — such as housework, shopping, cooking or social outings
  • equipment — such as walking frames
  • home modifications — such as handrails or ramps
  • personal care — such as dressing, eating, bathing or going to the toilet
  • health care — such as nursing, physio or medical care
  • accommodation — if living at home is no longer the best option

Aged care can help you to:

  • stay connected to your community
  • be more independent
  • take care of your health and safety
  • meet your cultural and social needs

Types of aged care services

Aged care services include:

  • care in your home
  • residential care in aged care (nursing) homes
  • short-term care (such as after-hospital  and respite care)

The Australian Government subsidises most types of aged care for people who are eligible.

Who is eligible?

You may be eligible for government-funded aged care services if you:

  • are 65 years of age or older (50 years or older if you identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person)
  • need help to do the things you used to do

Some people may be eligible at a younger age.

How do you access aged care?

You can find out how to access government-funded services on the My Aged Care website.

It steps you through how to get an assessment — to check whether you’re eligible — and organise services. If you can afford to, you are expected to help with some of the costs.

If you’re not eligible, or waiting for funded services to become available, you can access privately funded services at any time. You will need to pay the full costs yourself.

Who provides aged care?

Different types of organisations provide aged care services in Australia, including:

  • not-for-profit organisations
  • government organisations
  • for-profit private companies

Organisations must apply to become approved providers to get government funding.

Did you know that most older Australians receive support that is unpaid? This informal support is provided by families, friends, volunteers or their local community.

Our aged care system

Our aged care system helps older people to live independently in their homes. It also provides support and accommodation when this is no longer possible.

To make sure government-funded aged care is fair, easy to access and safe:

Find out:

What the numbers say

Our aged care system touches the lives of many Australians.

In 2017-18, over 1.3 million older people received some form of aged care. The great majority received home-based care and support, and relatively few lived in residential care:

  • 783,043 people received home support through the CHSP
  • 64,491 older people received support through the Commonwealth-State HACC program in WA
  • 116,843 people received care through a home care package
  • 61,993 people received residential respite care, of whom 33,145 (approximately 53 per cent) were later admitted to permanent care
  • 241,723 people received permanent residential aged care.

For more facts and figures, go to aged care research and reporting.

Last updated: 
24 June 2019
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