Almost 3,000 more aged care residents recorded significant unplanned weight loss last quarter than in the previous period, the latest aged care quality indicators report shows.

In the October-December 2019 quarter, 14,733 residents experienced significant unplanned weight loss, which is a loss of three or more kilograms in the period.

And 15,398 residents recorded consecutive unplanned weight loss, which is a loss of any amount every month over the three consecutive months.

This is up from 11,803 and 12,177 residents experiencing significant and consecutive unplanned weight loss respectively in the July-September 2019 quarter.

That’s according to the second quarterly report of the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on GEN Aged Care Data.

Physical restraints use up

There were also more occasions of intentional physical restraint recorded in the October-December 2019 quarter (25,529) than in the previous quarter (25,101).

There were 60,804 recorded occasions of physical restraint devices such as bedrails, chairs with locked tables, seatbelts, safety vests and shackles to intentionally or otherwise restrain a resident, up from 60,217 the previous quarter.

Pressure injuries down

In the October-December 2019 quarter, there were 12,509 pressure injuries recorded, down from 13,306 the previous quarter, according to the report.

Pressure injuries are categorised as:

  • stage 1: non-blanchable erythema of intact skin
  • stage 2: partial-thickness skin loss with exposed dermis
  • stage 3: full-thickness skin loss
  • stage 4: full-thickness loss of skin and tissue
  • unstagable: obscured full-thickness skin and tissue loss
  • suspected deep tissue: persistent non-blanchable deep red, maroon or purple discolouration.

Most of the recorded pressure injuries were stage 1 (5,426) and stage 2 (5,225), the least severe categories and both have decreased from the previous quarter (5,801 and 5,425 respectively).

However, the report shows there were more stage 3 pressure injuries (906) in the October-December 2019 quarter than the previous quarter (861).

Last quarter, 94 per cent of Commonwealth approved residential aged care services submitted on quality indicator data, up from 90 per cent the previous quarter, the AIHW said.

View the quality indicators data here.

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve only just discovered your magazine – looks good! Our experience suggests that unexplained weight loss may relate to time staff have for feeding and hydrating residents who are either totally dependent or need supervision. On the restraints question, I think we need more nuanced information, e.g. is one bed-rail, or a half rail, a restraint? Can you restrain someone who has no freedom of movement to restrict? We are currently in a battle to have a rail, or even half a rail, installed to prevent our frail elderly father having another fall from bed. Yes, the bed is low, and wide, but he has a fused left hip and so always sleep on his R side, close to the RHS of the bed. Yes, they have the little wedges, but they clearly don’t prevent a fall. Yes, they have sensored 30mm crash mats, but these also are not preventative. With a fused L hip, a R hip replacement, and undoubtedly very low bone density, another fall could be catastrophic. We have letters of support from his GP and his physio, but the provider is intransigent. A complaint lodged with AACQSC 5 months ago is still meandering through their system, but it seems they have no power anyway. I think it’s time for some legal and clinical analysis of the “restraints” situation.

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