Supporting older people's independence

Unfortunately when older people get sick, they sometimes lose the ability to care for themselves. This is particularly true if they live in circumstances with inadequate  social support. 

An illness can often lead to a transition to higher care because an older person is no longer able to remain living in their usual accommodation in the community. 

The question of whether the person needs to go into residential care is often raised. However, usually with help, the older person can improve and regain some independence. 

In certain circumstances, such as after stroke or hip fracture, more specialised care services such as Geriatric Evaluation and Management Units (GEM) or a formal rehabilitation services are needed. 


There are a range of services to help an older person recover from an illness. These include physiotherapy and exercise programs delivered by hospital outpatient departments and day therapy centres run in aged care facilities. 

Transition care services also provide low level restorative care and support after acute hospital admission. These services can be delivered at home or in an aged care facility.

Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATs) 

ACATs assess the level of care needed in order to determine eligibility for various Australian Government funded programs including:

  • residential aged care (including respite)
  • community aged care packages
  • extended aged care at home packages 
  • extended aged care at home dementia packages
  • transition care packages. 

The Aged Care Assessment Program is a Commonwealth funded program with clear guidelines for the assessment of older people. 

Residential aged care

Most residential aged care is provided by the commonwealth government (not the state government), and is therefore not under the management of SA Health. This is not the case in rural areas. 

Country Health SA is the largest provider of residential aged care in country South Australia particularly in smaller communities where there is no other provider. In addition to residential aged care, Country Health SA also manages Independent living units across various communities.

Once again, your local health service or GP is the best place to find out more.