Third of aged care residents sent to emergency each year

Aged care hospitalisation rates up, royal commission research finds

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Just over 10 per cent of aged care residents went to hospital because of a fall in 2018-19.


More than a third of Australian nursing home residents presented to an emergency department at least once in 2018-19.

New research for the aged care royal commission has found increasing rates of emergency hospitalisations among people living in residential aged care, up from 32.7 per cent in 2014-15 to 36.9 per cent in 2018-19.

The latest research also found 31.1 per cent of aged care residents were admitted to a public hospital at least once, with over 10 per cent of admissions resulting from a fall.

The first-of-its-kind study by the Office of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety looked at over 460,000 unique resident records and linked aged care data to each state and territory's hospital records to calculate the hospitalisation rates from 2014-15 to 2018-19.

It's one of many research papers specifically commissioned and published to inform the Royal Commission, which will release its final report by February 26 this year.

Many of the hospital admissions were preventable, with the variation across residential aged care facilities also shown.

The most common reasons for hospital admissions and emergency department presentations were respiratory disease, injuries, circulatory disease, dialysis, and 'symptoms and signs'.

The report found 10.5 per cent of residents were admitted to hospital in 2018-19 because of a fall, up from 8.5 per cent in 2014-15, and 5.4 per cent for a fracture.

About 3.4 per cent of residents were admitted to hospital for a pressure injury, about 2 per cent for weight loss, and 0.5 per cent for an adverse medication event in the same time period.

The researchers said the study and other indicators about hospitalisations could help consumers choose between aged care services, assist the regulator to address non-compliance with care standards, and aid providers to improve the quality of the services they are responsible for delivering.

The numbers for 2018/19 equate (roughly) to 966 public hospitalisations, 290 private hospitalisations and 938 emergency department presentations per 1000 people in permanent residential aged care.

You can read the paper in full HERE