Which is better aged care or disability?

Which is better aged care or disability?

  • Prakash Bartaula
  • 7 July, 2024
10 Min Read

Disability support cater to different needs, making neither inherently better. Aged care aids older adults with daily activities, health conditions, and social engagement to maintain quality of life. Disability support assists individuals of all ages with physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, focusing on independence, skill development, and community participation. The choice depends on individual circumstances, specific needs, and personal goals, with each system providing services suited to its target group.

Which is better aged care or disability?

Comparing aged care and disability support is complex, as both serve important but distinct purposes. Rather than one being “better” than the other, each is designed to meet the specific needs of different groups. Let’s explore the key aspects of both aged care and disability support to understand their unique features and help determine which may be more suitable in different situations.

Which is better aged care or disability?

Purpose and Focus

Aged Care

Aged care is designed to support older adults, typically those over 65, who need assistance with daily living due to the natural aging process. The primary goals of aged care include:

  • Maintaining independence and quality of life for seniors
  • Providing support with activities of daily living
  • Managing age-related health conditions
  • Ensuring social engagement and mental wellbeing
  • Offering a safe and comfortable living environment

Aged care recognizes that as people grow older, they may face challenges in performing tasks they once found easy. The focus is on providing dignified support that allows seniors to maintain as much independence as possible while ensuring their safety and well-being.

Disability Support

Disability support, on the other hand, caters to individuals of all ages who have physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities. The main objectives of disability support are:

  • Promoting independence and community participation
  • Providing personalized support based on individual needs and goals
  • Enhancing skills and capabilities
  • Facilitating social inclusion and employment opportunities
  • Ensuring equal access to services and resources

Disability support is founded on the principle that individuals with disabilities have the right to full participation in society. It aims to remove barriers and provide the necessary support to enable people with disabilities to live fulfilling lives according to their own choices and aspirations.

Types of Services

Aged Care Services

Aged care offers a range of services to meet the varying needs of older adults:

  • Home Care: Provides support services to seniors living in their own homes, including personal care, housekeeping, and meal preparation. This can include help with bathing, dressing, medication management, and light household chores. Home care allows seniors to maintain their independence while receiving necessary support.
  • Residential Aged Care: Offers 24/7 care in specialized facilities for seniors who can no longer live independently. These facilities provide comprehensive care, including meals, personal care, medical supervision, and social activities. They are designed to cater to various levels of care needs, from low to high care.
  • Respite Care: Provides temporary care to give regular caregivers a break. This can be in-home or in a residential facility and can range from a few hours to several weeks. Respite care is crucial in preventing caregiver burnout and ensuring sustainable long-term care arrangements.
  • Transition Care: Supports seniors transitioning from hospital back to independent living. This short-term care helps older people recover and regain independence after a hospital stay, potentially avoiding premature entry into long-term residential care.

Disability Support Services


Disability support encompasses a wide array of services tailored to individual needs:

  • Personal Care: Assists with daily activities like bathing, dressing, and grooming. This support is tailored to the individual’s specific needs and abilities, promoting dignity and independence.
  • Therapy Services: Includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. These services aim to improve or maintain physical function, develop life skills, and enhance communication abilities.
  • Assistive Technology: Provides devices and equipment to enhance independence. This can range from mobility aids to communication devices and home modifications, all designed to increase the individual’s ability to perform daily tasks and participate in community life.
  • Community Access: Supports participation in social and recreational activities. This might include assistance to attend community events, join clubs or groups, or engage in hobbies and interests.
  • Employment Support: Helps individuals find and maintain employment. This can include job search assistance, workplace modifications, on-the-job training, and ongoing support to ensure successful long-term employment.
  • Accommodation Services: Offers various living arrangements, from supported independent living to group homes. These options are designed to match the individual’s preferences and support needs, promoting as much independence as possible.

Eligibility and Funding

Aged Care

In Australia, aged care services are primarily funded by the government through My Aged Care. Eligibility is based on:

  • Age (typically 65 years or older)
  • Care needs assessment
  • Residency status

Users may be required to contribute to the cost of their care based on their financial situation. The assessment process involves an evaluation of the individual’s care needs and financial circumstances to determine the level of government support and any required personal contributions.

The Australian government has implemented a consumer-directed care model, allowing seniors more choice and control over the types of care and services they receive. This model aims to provide more personalized and flexible care options.

Disability Support

Disability support in Australia is mainly provided through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Eligibility criteria include:

  • Age (under 65 when applying)
  • Permanent and significant disability
  • Australian residency status

The NDIS provides individualized funding packages based on the person’s needs and goals. This person-centered approach allows for greater flexibility and choice in how support is delivered.

The NDIS represents a significant shift in how disability support is funded and delivered in Australia. It moves away from a one-size-fits-all approach to a model where individuals have more control over their support arrangements.

Approach to Care

Aged Care Approach

Aged care generally focuses on:

  • Maintaining current abilities and slowing decline
  • Managing age-related health conditions
  • Ensuring comfort and safety
  • Providing social engagement opportunities

The approach is often more standardized, with care plans tailored to common age-related needs. However, there is an increasing emphasis on person-centered care, which takes into account individual preferences and life histories.

Aged care providers often use a holistic approach, considering not just physical health but also mental wellbeing, social connections, and spiritual needs. This may include activities and therapies designed to stimulate cognitive function and maintain physical abilities.

Disability Support Approach

Disability support typically emphasizes:

  • Skill development and capacity building
  • Promoting independence and self-determination
  • Individualized support plans based on personal goals
  • Community inclusion and participation

The approach is highly personalized, focusing on the unique needs and aspirations of each individual. Disability support is grounded in the social model of disability, which views disability as the result of societal barriers rather than individual impairments.

This approach aims to empower individuals with disabilities to make their own choices and take control of their lives. It often involves working closely with the person to identify their goals and develop strategies to achieve them.

Staff Training and Expertise

Aged Care Staff

Aged care workers usually have training in:

  • Gerontology (study of aging)
  • Age-related health conditions (e.g., dementia)
  • Personal care for older adults
  • Fall prevention and mobility assistance

Staff in aged care facilities are often required to have specific qualifications, such as a Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing). Ongoing training is typically provided to ensure staff are up-to-date with best practices in aged care.

Specialized roles within aged care may include registered nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and diversional therapists, each bringing specific expertise to support the varied needs of older adults.

Disability Support Staff

Disability support workers often have specialized training in:

  • Various types of disabilities
  • Person-centered support strategies
  • Assistive technology use
  • Behavior support
  • Skill development techniques

Many disability support workers hold qualifications such as a Certificate IV in Disability. However, the specific skills and knowledge required can vary greatly depending on the needs of the individuals being supported.

Ongoing professional development is crucial in disability support, as the field is constantly evolving with new approaches and technologies. Staff may receive training in specific areas such as autism support, positive behavior support, or supporting people with complex communication needs.

Living Arrangements

Aged Care Living Options

Aged care offers several living arrangements:

  • Aging in Place: Supports seniors to remain in their own homes. This option often involves home modifications and regular visits from care workers to assist with daily tasks.
  • Retirement Villages: Independent living units with some support services. These communities offer a balance of independence and community, often with shared facilities and organized activities.
  • Residential Aged Care Facilities: 24/7 care in a specialized environment. These facilities cater to those with higher care needs, providing round-the-clock support and medical supervision.

The choice of living arrangement often depends on the individual’s level of independence, care needs, and personal preferences. Many aged care providers now offer a continuum of care, allowing residents to transition between different levels of support as their needs change.

Disability Support Living Options

Disability support provides various living options:

  • Supported Independent Living: Assistance to live in private accommodation. This can involve regular support visits or live-in support, depending on the individual’s needs.
  • Group Homes: Shared housing with 24/7 support. These homes typically accommodate a small number of residents and provide round-the-clock care and support.
  • Specialist Disability Accommodation: Purpose-built or modified housing for high-support needs. This option caters to individuals with complex physical or behavioral support requirements.

The focus in disability support is on providing living arrangements that maximize independence and community participation. The choice of living arrangement is guided by the individual’s preferences, support needs, and goals for independence.

Focus on Independence

Aged Care Independence

In aged care, the focus on independence often means:

  • Maintaining current abilities as long as possible
  • Providing assistance to compensate for declining capabilities
  • Ensuring safety while allowing for autonomy

Aged care services aim to strike a balance between providing necessary support and encouraging seniors to do as much for themselves as they safely can. This might involve strategies such as:

  • Encouraging participation in daily tasks to maintain skills
  • Using assistive devices to support independent function
  • Tailoring support to the individual’s changing needs over time

Disability Support Independence

Disability support strongly emphasizes enhancing independence by:

  • Developing new skills and capabilities
  • Using assistive technology to overcome barriers
  • Promoting self-advocacy and decision-making
  • Supporting community participation and employment

The goal in disability support is often to increase independence over time. This might involve:

  • Setting goals for skill development and regularly reviewing progress
  • Providing opportunities to practice new skills in real-world settings
  • Gradually reducing support as the individual becomes more independent
  • Empowering individuals to make choices about their support and daily lives

Social Engagement and Community Participation

Aged Care Social Activities

Aged care services typically offer:

  • Organized group activities within facilities
  • Supervised outings and excursions
  • Visiting entertainment and social programs

The focus is often on providing enjoyable experiences and preventing isolation. Activities might include:

  • Arts and crafts sessions
  • Music and dance events
  • Gardening clubs
  • Intergenerational programs with local schools
  • Celebrations of cultural and religious events

These activities are designed to maintain cognitive function, promote social connections, and enhance overall quality of life for seniors.

Disability Support Social Inclusion

Disability support actively promotes:

  • Community integration and participation
  • Support to engage in mainstream activities and events
  • Development of social skills and relationships
  • Opportunities for volunteering and employment

The emphasis is on full social inclusion and active community involvement. This might involve:

  • Support to join local clubs or interest groups
  • Assistance to attend community events and activities
  • Programs to develop social skills and confidence
  • Partnerships with local businesses to create employment opportunities

The goal is to break down barriers to participation and ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities for social engagement as everyone else in the community.

Both aged care and disability support play crucial roles in supporting individuals with different needs. The choice between the two depends on various factors including age, specific needs, personal goals, and eligibility criteria. Both systems aim to enhance quality of life and promote independence, but their approaches and focus areas differ to best serve their respective target groups.


Prakash Bartaula

Joined : 5 April, 2024

I’m deeply passionate about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and dedicated to exploring its intricacies. Through research, communication, and writing, I aim to shed light on NDIS provisions and empower individuals with disabilities. Join me as we navigate the transformative potential of the NDIS together.

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