The country has more than a million people who receive some form of aged care services and the government spends $14 billion for their welfare. It is estimated that this expenditure will rise to $17.5 billion per annum by 2016-17. The aged care industry is an employee-intensive business and there are about 350,000 staff employed by over 2,000 aged care providers.
Seniors who do not require care around the clock are provided for by the government through numerous programs which are available for assisted living. Based on individual requirements, facilities such as help with housework or help with bathing and dressing are available. The government subsidises a range of services to assist persons who need such help.
About 160,000 people live in aged care facilities and this number is expected to rise with increased longevity. However, the majority of older people do not live in aged care facilities but are eligible to receive support from the government based on their needs and income levels. The government actively encourages this option as it helps seniors stay in familiar surroundings and remain active for as long as they can. It is also a better option financially, as providing residential facilities is much more expensive than making the required services available at a person’s home.
The aged care residential services industry is an important sector of the Australian economy and one which is growing steadily. Currently there are 6.1 million Australians who are over the age of 55 and only 6% of this number live in retirement villages or residential aged care facilities. With the passage of time an increasing number of these persons will need assistance with day-to-day living and may be required to move to an aged care home where they can receive the appropriate level of care.
A unique feature of this industry is that it is labour-intensive. Retirement homes, and to a greater extent aged care homes, require a large number of employees who provide care to residents. It is estimated that approximately half to two-thirds of an aged care facility’s revenues go towards labour costs.
Another factor which will contribute to the increase in the requirement for aged care facilities is the increasing number of people in the country who suffer from dementia. It is estimated that about half of aged care residents have this condition and that the total number of people who suffer from dementia is 220,000.
As the country’s population ages the need for aged care homes and assisted living facilities will rise. While the Australian government is one of the most progressive countries in the world on the issue of caring for older people, the increasing demand for services by this sector will result in the continued growth of the aged care industry.