How does Australia’s ageing and growing population affect aged care facilities?

Our population is growing and ageing. Currently sitting at 22 million,  Australia’s population has been projected to dramatically increase to 35.9 million people in 2050.  We also face an ageing population. Our ageing population is largely attributed to sustained low fertility levels and increasing life expectancy at birth. By the year 2050 we will see the number of people aged 65 to 84 years more than double and the number of people 85 years and over more than quadruple.

These figures will have a dramatic impact on aged care facilities.

The next few decades will place pressure on aged care facilities to care for much larger numbers of residents. Additionally these facilities will face an increased pressure to meet the demands of a diverse population – an ageing population with more complex care needs and preferences than ever before.

Funding pressures for facilities

The population growth and ageing population will mean more residents entering facilities. Residential aged care is a $14 billion industry that is highly regulated and dependent on Federal Government funding for operating revenue. The industry has experienced growth over recent years and is likely to continue to do so as an ageing population drives demand for its services.

However, the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) and the Australian Government’s subsidisation of aged care facilities has resulted in rising scrutiny and constraints over much-needed funding. Many residential aged care providers are also facing rising operational costs and declining viability.

To combat these funding pressures, Aged Care facilities must have more than just a fundamental understanding of the definitions, assessments, and business rules of ACFI.

Care needs becoming more complex

The demand implications of the continued growth in the aged population will be compounded by increasing (and more expensive) care needs.

The prevalence of chronic diseases increases with age. As people age they are also more likely to suffer from multiple illnesses. Chronic diseases and co-morbidity requires specialised (and costly) care. The need for specialised care will increase dramatically over the next 50 years. This will provide opportunities for aged care providers, but will also require substantial investment in specialised care.

Skills shortage in the industry

Alongside Australia’s growing, ageing population, the aged care workforce will face their own challenges. At present there is a vast shortage of registered nurses and skilled care workers and this shortage may continue. Many aged care facilities will struggle to ensure that high quality care is delivered to all residents.

Life expectancy (expected age at death in years) in Australia at birth by sex, 1881–1890 to 2011–2013

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