Aged care overview

What is the Australian system of aged care?
Australia's aged care system is structured around two main forms of care delivery - residential aged care and community aged care. The aged care system operates in a broader system of health delivery, income support, and housing and community services.

Residential aged care is regulated by the Australian Government, which provides subsidies to approved providers whose homes have been assessed against the Accreditation Standards by the designated accreditation body, the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency Ltd.

Residential aged care homes provide accommodation, hospitality services and personal and nursing care to older people who can no longer live in their own homes.

Providers of residential aged care receive subsidies from the Australian Government, the amount being allocated on an ‘aged care place’ basis and dependent on the level of care required by residents. Since 1 January 2001, payment of a government subsidy has been contingent on the approved provider being accredited by the Accreditation Agency.

What is the Accreditation Agency’s role?
The Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency Ltd (the Accreditation Agency) was established in October 1997 and appointed as the accreditation body under the Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act). The Accreditation Agency was established as an independent company subject to the Corporations Act 2001, with an independent Board of Directors, but owned by the Australian Government.

The Accreditation Grant Principles 2011 require that we carry out regular supervision of accredited homes to monitor their performance against the Accreditation Standards and other responsibilities under the Act; and to assist the homes to undertake a process of continuous improvement.

Managing accreditation involves:

  • assessment of each home’s performance against the Accreditation Standards
  • granting or refusing accreditation based on their performance
  • deciding on the period of accreditation that should apply to individual homes
  • monitoring the performance of accredited homes
  • monitoring and assisting with improvements to address deficiencies where these occur, and
  • assisting with continuous improvement generally.

What has been the effect of accreditation?
Improvements have occurred in the provision of care and services since the commencement of accreditation.

There have been four major rounds of comprehensive accreditation assessment since September 1999.

In an industry comprising of 2,754 homes as at 31 December 2009, during the last accreditation round 94.2 per cent of homes nationally found to met all 44 expected outcomes of the Accreditation Standards. This is an improvement from 91.8 per cent three years earlier and a significant improvement from 63.5 per cent in 2000.