Younger People in RAC

Residential aged care is primarily designed to meet the needs of older people who are unable to continue living independently in their own homes. [1]

There is provision for younger people to be admitted to aged care if no other more suitable services are available.

A report for the Victorian Department of Human Services looked at the characteristics of younger people (aged under 50) living in RAC in Victoria and identified a number of issues arising.

  • More than half of all younger people in the study had a diagnosis of acquired brain injury (from trauma, hypoxia or infection) and about a third had multiple sclerosis
  • Other conditions included Huntington’s disease, early onset dementia, cerebral palsy and intellectual disability
  • The majority of people studied had high or very high care needs and many displayed challenging behaviours. [2]

Admitting younger people to aged care facilities raises a number of issues.

  • The services and systems in place in aged care are designed for older people and are inappropriate for younger people
  • Younger people admitted to aged care frequently have care needs for which RAC may not have appropriate expertise  and resources
  • Younger people in RAC can experience social isolation
  • They may have difficulty accessing appropriate health services
  • Younger people have often lost access to state based disability services that they need and would otherwise be eligible for and aged care is not funded to provide these services
  • Average stay for older people in aged care is 2.7 years, but younger people may be resident for many years, this reduces the beds available for older people.

There have been major initiatives to address concerns about younger people in aged care. The difficulties arising from state governments having responsibility for disability services and the federal government having responsibility for aged care. The role of ACATs in approving younger people for aged care was addressed under national guidelines. [3]

The Younger People with Disability in Aged Care Program (YPIRAC) has assisted:

  • 250 younger people to move out of aged care
  • another 250 younger people to avoid admission to aged care
  • approximately 450 people to remain in aged care with enhanced services (when this was the only suitable option for them).

As a result of the YPIRAC program, the number of persons aged under 50 in aged care has reduced by 35%. [4]

  1. Australian Government. Guide to Aged Care Law. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2015.
  2. Winkler D, Sloan, S, Callaway L. Younger people in residential aged care: Support needs, preferences and future directions.Melbourne: Summer Foundation Ltd; 2007 Oct. (5.10MB pdf)
  3. Australian Government Department of Health and Aging. National Guiding Principles for the Referral and Assessment of Younger People with Disability. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2008.
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Younger people with disability in residential aged care: 2010-2011[Internet]. 2012 [cited 2012 October 08]; AIHW cat. no. AUS 155.

Residential Aged Care

Last updated 20 March 2019