Staff at Uniting Aged Care’s 16 aged care facilities in Victoria and Tasmania will receive training on how to recognise and manage asthma in older patients.

The training is being delivered by the Asthma Foundation of Victoria over 12 months with funding from SHARE.

The Asthma Foundation of Australia estimates that 30 per cent of elderly Australians have undiagnosed asthma and the majority of people who die from asthma are aged over 65.

The Asthma Foundation of Victoria’s Service Manager, Garry Irving, said people often develop asthma in older age.

“Many of the people in aged care facilities may well have asthma or undiagnosed asthma and that raises two points,” he said.

“One is the recognition of the issue and secondly, it raises the need for appropriate understanding among the people who are caring for the residents in aged care facilities to manage the condition.”

The training is being delivered through a series of on-site interactive presentations for a broad range of care staff.

Judy Davey, an educator/advisor with the Asthma Foundation, says staff are responding well to the training.

“In aged care it is difficult because there are other medical conditions that might give you chest tightness or an increase in breathlessness,” she said.

“It’s about raising awareness so that staff will think about getting Mrs Smith reviewed for asthma if she demonstrates the symptoms.”

The course also includes first aid for responding to residents suffering from an asthma attack.

“If someone has an attack, sit them down comfortably, stay with them and ask your colleague to get their reliever medication,” said Ms Davey.

“Give them four separate puffs of the reliever medication through a spacer device.

“Take four breaths from the spacer after each puff and then wait for four minutes and review the patient.

“If they have done well that’s great but if it hasn’t worked as well as we would like, we repeat the four puffs through the spacer again. If that’s no good, call an ambulance.”

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