Objective. This paper presents past trends in resident characteristics and usage patterns in residential aged care and explores implications for the future.
Methods. Time series analyses were undertaken of national aged care administrative datasets and the Australian Bureau of Statistics Surveys of Disability, Ageing and Carers.
Results. Although the number of people in residential care has continued to increase, resident profiles have changed as a result of higher growth rates in the number of men and of people aged 65–74 years and 90 years and over, and a decline in the number of women aged 75–89 years. Relative to population size, usage rates are declining across all age groups, the average length of stay is shortening, and dependency levels appear to be rising.
Conclusion. Changing trends in residential aged care use, when combined with key trends in the broader population of older Australians, offer useful insights in planning for the future.