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Entry period is the time in days between assessment of a person by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) as being eligible for residential aged care, and entry of that person into a residential aged care service.
The report, Entry period for residential aged care (2002), rejects entry period as a proxy measure of waiting time for admission to a residential aged care facility. While entry period has been increasing, these analyses have shown that the supply of services in any particular region has a negligible effect on entry period. There are many factors that affect entry period, but are not actually linked with performance of the aged care system.
One of the main determinants of a short entry period was whether the resident had an ACAT assessment performed while they were in hospital rather than when they were living at home. A longer entry period was also strongly related to whether the resident had used a community aged care package or residential respite care prior to admission
Many people assessed by an ACAT and recommended for residential aged care never enter a residential service. Others receive recommendations for both residential aged care and a community aged care package, and take up the latter. Recommendations for residential care remain active for 12 months, so people often don't have to act on a recommendation immediately.
On the basis this work the AIHW recommended that entry period is not used as a performance indicator. However, waiting time as opposed to entry period, is an important piece of information for which we do not yet have national statistics. Before data can be collected a definition of 'waiting time' needs to be agreed. A good starting point would be to define it as the time between a person actively seeking residential aged care and actual entry to aged care.