Resource Utilisation and Classification Study

The Commonwealth Minister for Aged Care announced in August 2017 that the Australian Health Services Research Institute at the University of Wollongong had been engaged to undertake a Resource Utilisation and Classification Study (RUCS) in residential aged care. The purpose of this study is to determine the drivers of cost in residential aged care and to develop a resident classification system and funding approach that reflects these drivers. This will inform the Government’s decisions around future funding reforms.

The Study consists of three separate but linked sub-Studies


  • Study One comprises a detailed collection and analysis of service utilisation and assessment data for residents and financial data from 30 homes across three regions of Australia, the Hunter region in NSW, metropolitan Melbourne and North Queensland. All residents in these residential care homes will be assessed using a tool specifically developed for this study and administered by independent external assessors. The tool has been developed based on the advice of four panels of experts from the health and aged care fields and is aimed at capturing the resident care requirements that are likely drivers of care staff time and resource use.
  • Data will also be collected about the services that these residents receive, the amount of time and the type of care staff involved. These data will be used to create a ‘casemix’ classification that will capture the different care needs groups of residents within Australian residential aged care facilities. Study One will also capture information about the proportion of time and costs involved in providing care across all residents generally (shared care). These more general care activities include facility level supervision, or supervision of dining and lounge rooms, delivering meals and medications etc.). This additional analysis will inform the design of a funding model that includes fixed (shared care) and variable (individualised care) components. Study One will also examine whether there is an initial adjustment period for each new resident that involves a higher level of individualised care inputs and costs.
  • Study Two involves the collection of financial information (expenses only) from a nationally representative sample of homes across Australia. The focus of this study is to identify the characteristics of residential care homes that result in different in levels of fixed cost. The analysis will target factors such as facility size, geographic location, target populations (e.g. indigenous and CALD groups) and any seasonal impacts. This analysis will inform the design of the proposed fixed and variable payment model.
  • Study Three will use the results of Studies One and Two to develop and test a new funding model. The classification system developed in Study One will be applied to a national sample of aged care facilities, based again on external assessments, to identify a national residential aged care casemix profile. The fixed and variable cost information that resulted from Studies One and Two will be used to develop and test of the impact of moving to the new model.

Current activities

Study One

Residential care homes in the three regions have been approached to participate in this Study. The response has been very positive overall and all but a few of the participating sites are now confirmed.

The assessment tool is now finalised and has been tested with a major local provider in the Illawarra region. The panel of expert external assessors is being finalised. Initial meetings with each of the participating sites in the Hunter and data collection training sessions for the care staff have been scheduled throughout February.

Download the following resources:

Study Two

Invitations to participate in Study Two have been sent out to the sample of identified residential care homes and responses are currently being received.

For inquiries please contact

For further information view additional material provided by the Department of Health and other sources.


Last reviewed: 27 February, 2018