Aboriginal community-controlled aged care: Principles, practices and actions to integrate with primary health care

Publication Name

Primary Health Care Research and Development


Aim: To identify: 1) best practice aged care principles and practices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older peoples, and 2) actions to integrate aged care services with Aboriginal community-controlled primary health care. Background: There is a growing number of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and an unmet demand for accessible, culturally safe aged care services. The principles and features of aged care service delivery designed to meet the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have not been extensively explored and must be understood to inform aged care policy and primary health care planning into the future. Methods: The research was governed by leaders from across the Aboriginal community-controlled primary health care sector who identified exemplar services to explore best practice in culturally aligned aged care. In-depth case studies were undertaken with two metropolitan Aboriginal community-controlled services. We conducted semi-structured interviews and yarning circles with 46 staff members to explore key principles, ways of working, enablers and challenges for aged care service provision. A framework approach to thematic analysis was undertaken with emergent findings reviewed and refined by participating services and the governance panel to incorporate national perspectives. Findings: A range of principles guided Aboriginal community-controlled aged care service delivery, such as supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity, connection with elders and communities and respect for self-determination. Strong governance, effective leadership and partnerships, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce and culturally safe non-Indigenous workforce were among the identified enablers of aged care. Nine implementation actions guided the integration of aged care with primary health care service delivery. Funding limitations, workforce shortages, change management processes and difficulties with navigating the aged care system were among the reported challenges. These findings contribute to an evidence base regarding accessible, integrated, culturally safe aged care services tailored to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access



Article Number


Funding Number

1 061 242

Funding Sponsor

National Health and Medical Research Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)