CQ’s aged care system by the numbers
In the wake of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, Central Queensland residents may wonder about the services available nearby, and who it is that needs them most.
The most recent public data suggests that the region has high residential care occupancy rates and ageing populations that will increasingly require attention for dementia and respite.
The Australian system offers three types of aged care: residential, which offers permanent or short-term stays (or respite) in a facility; home care, which is administered through the federal Home Care Packages Program; and home support.
The Fitzroy Aged Care Planning Region contains Rockhampton, Gladstone, the Central Highlands, and Banana Shire.
Inside it are 22 residential aged care services, 35 home care services, and 53 home support outlets, according to the My Aged Care Region Tool.
Altogether, there are 1605 places available for all types of aged care, nearly 1200 of which are offered by not-for-profits rather than governmental or private services.
Fitzroy’s residential care has an occupancy rate of 94.7 per cent, or about 50 people in every 1000.
Of the people first admitted into residential care, most are between 85 and 89 years old, and 47.4 per cent of permanent residents have a diagnosis of dementia.
That is emphasised by the Residential Care Places Map, which lists dementia and respite as the key issues for Rockhampton, Gladstone, the Central Highlands, and Biloela.
It also forecasts increases in the number of elderly people as a proportion of the population.
Workforce data is collected every four years, and those from 2016 are the latest available.
In that year, the average ratio of direct care workers to operational places in residential aged care across Queensland was 0.81; in 2012 it was 0.76.
Advocates of improved ratios, however, tend to speak in terms of care hours per day.
A summary of the Royal Commission’s findings released in early March found that the nation’s aged care sector was “facing an ageing population with increasing frailty”.
“Changing demographics, together with changes in the patterns of disease and dependency, and in the expectations of older people and society, will impact on demand
for aged care in a number of ways,” it said.
“These include the length of stay in residential aged care, the increase in care needs, the demand for a variety of care choices, and the desire of older people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.”
It projected that the number of Australians aged 85 or older would nearly triple in the next 40 years.
“Our examination of systemic problems in the Australian aged care system cannot help
but paint a gloomy picture,” it said.