The 4 Main Types of Aged Care Services in Australia

Residential Aged Care | Home Care | Short term care & respite | Dementia Care

Posted 14th December 2023  |  3 minute read

Written by Jesse Gramenz Reviewed by Julie Dymock

illustration of a st vincent's staff member looking at multiple options for care

Aged care can be really confusing. So, if you're new to aged care and don't know what the heck all the services are and what they mean, you've come to the right place. Let's begin.


1. Residential Aged Care

Residential care is a term used to describe the general care and support provided in an aged care home. You might also hear an aged care home referred to as a nursing home or an aged care facility.

In an aged care home, you receive assistance most commonly including "personal care" which involves help with needs such as washing, dressing, mobility assistance and so on.


Types of Residential Aged Care Homes

Some aged care homes are better equipped than others to care for people with particular needs.


  1. Cultural & language specific homes (Chinese, Italian etc.)
  2. Religion specific homes (Catholic, Anglican, Islamic etc.)
  3. Service specific homes (Dementia Care etc.)


It's important that when searching for a home, you weigh up your aged care facility options and find one that suits not only the level of care that you require, but your values and background too.


Read on:



2.In-Home Care (Aged care at home)

Home care is health and supportive care for seniors provided by qualified professionals in the comfort of your home.

Home care is for people who have noticed changes in their physical or mental wellbeing that have affected their overall lifestyle.

This can be because of their age, health conditions or even just a change in living circumstances.

The great thing about home care is that it can be tailored to whatever you need to make sure you're staying safe at home. 

Some examples of home care services include:


  1. Nursing & support services
  2. Help with medications
  3. General cleaning and home maintenance
  4. Handrails, alarm systems and other home modifications
  5. Watering plants and gardening


Staff might also be trained in specific types of care for clients who have dementia.


Read on:

  1. What is Home Care?
  2. Types of services you can get with home care

3.Short term care & respite care

Short term care (or Respite care) is for when carers need to take a well earned break from looking after their elderly loved ones.

It can be used in situations where families are caring for aging relatives or individuals with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or other long-term care needs.

Respite care can be provided in various settings, including residential aged care facilities, in-home care, community centers, or specialized respite care facilities.


Types of Short term care & respite

The type of short term care you receive depends on the type and level of support you need. Because of that, the types of respite care vary and can include:


In home respite care

Short term care where a carer provides care usually for a few hours at a time

Residential respite care

Short term care where a team of carers and nurses provide care usually for a period of three weeks

Centre-based respite care

Short term care where clients are cared for in a community setting for the day such as a day centre, club or even an aged care home.


Whether a carer needs respite because of illness, a break or otherwise, there are options available that can help provide assistance to carers in need.

4.Dementia care

Dementia care is a specialized form of aged care tailored to meet the needs of people living with dementia and experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline such as memory loss & changes in mood and behavior.


Types of Dementia Care

In a lot of ways, the options available for dementia care are very similar to short term or respite care. The difference, however, mainly comes down to both the training and approach of care staff and differences in the physical environment of care.


In home dementia care

This is dementia care where a trained carer offers specialised care services to someone living with dementia in their home. Depending on the level of care needed due to the progression of a client's dementia or other physical needs, in home dementia care can vary from as little as a few hours a week to a few hours a day.

This type of care can be particularly beneficial as it allows individuals to maintain a sense of normalcy and routine in a well-known environment, which can be comforting for those living with dementia.


Residential dementia care

Dementia care in a residential aged care home often takes place in units or wings specifically designed for people with dementia. 

Some features of dementia aged care homes or wing include:

  • Enhanced Security Measures - Dementia-specific facilities often have increased security to prevent wandering, a common issue with dementia patients. This can include secured exits, monitoring systems, and enclosed outdoor spaces to ensure safety.
  • Specialized Staff Training - Staff in dementia care homes are typically trained specifically in dementia care, understanding the unique needs and behaviors associated with the condition, such as communication strategies and behavior management.
  • Memory Care Programs - These facilities offer structured activities and therapies designed to maintain cognitive function, such as music therapy, memory boxes, and reminiscence activities.
  • Adapted Physical Environment - The physical layout and design are often simplified to reduce confusion and aid in navigation. This can include color-coded areas and clear signage.
  • Sensory Rooms - Some dementia care homes include sensory rooms or areas designed to stimulate senses without being overwhelming, which can be calming for residents with dementia.
  • Therapeutic Gardens - Enclosed outdoor spaces often feature gardens that are safe for dementia patients to enjoy, providing sensory stimulation and a connection with nature.


In these settings, staff provide 24-hour care, including assistance with daily activities, medication management, and various therapies. The aim is to create a community that feels like home, where residents can engage in meaningful activities and social interaction within a safe and supportive space.


Centre-based dementia care

Dementia care in a centre-based setting offers a change of scenery and a chance to socialize in a community setting for people living with dementia. This type of care is typically provided during the day at local centers, clubs, or even within residential aged care homes. It can be an excellent way for caregivers to take a break and for individuals with dementia to engage in different activities and interactions.

Adjusting to a new environment can take time for someone with dementia, and consistency is key. Establishing a routine with regular visits can help ease the transition and offer some continuity of care. Centre-based respite care can be a bridge between home care and more permanent care solutions, offering a mix of socialization, care, and a break from the usual environment.


Parting Thoughts

Navigating the world of aged care in Australia can be overwhelming. But with the right information and a clear understanding of the different types of aged care facilities, you can make an informed decision. Remember, it's all about finding a place where you or your loved one can feel at home, receive the necessary care, and enjoy a fulfilling life. So, take your time, do your research and most importantly talk to the experts!

Still have questions?

st vincent's call centre worker