There have been over 800 more recorded instances of pressure injuries among aged care residents compared to the previous quarter, while unplanned weight loss and use of restraints continue to decline, the latest aged care quality indicators report shows.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program data shows there were 12,374 recorded pressure injuries across Australia in the April – June 2021 quarter, up from 11,554 during the January – March period.

The data submitted from 2,611 residential aged care services shows most were stage 2 pressure injuries, which is partial-thickness skin loss with exposed dermis (5,211), or stage 1, which is non-blanchable erythema of intact skin (5,063). Both stages have increased from the previous quarter (5,040 and 4,596 respectively).

Unstageable pressure injuries, which is obscured full-thickness skin and tissue loss (698) and suspected deep tissue pressure injuries (425) were also higher compared to the previous quarter (599 and 310 respectively).

However, there was a slight decrease in stage 3 pressure injuries, which is full-thickness skin loss (769) and stage 4 pressure injuries, which is full-thickness loss of skin and tissue (208), compared to the January – March quarter (787 and 222 respectively).

Unplanned weight loss continues to decline

The report shows unplanned weight loss is continuing a downward trend. There were 13,173 instances of unplanned weight loss, which is a loss of 3 or more kilograms over a three-month period during the April – June quarter.

This is down from 14,429 in the previous quarter and 14,985 in the October – December 2020 quarter.

Consecutive unplanned weight loss, which is a loss of any amount every month over the three consecutive months, is also down to 12,770 from 14,391 in the previous quarter and 15,274 in the October – December 2020 quarter.

Physical restraint use drops

Physical restraint use by state. Source: AIHW

There were also less 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 (49,415) compared to the previous quarter (50,653) and October-December 2020 (54,264).

There was also a drop in instances of intent to restrain (21,369) compared to the January – March quarter (23,595) and for the October – December period (24,476).

Queensland recorded the highest use of physical restraint devices (5.60), followed by Western Australia (3.41), New South Wales (3.25), the Australian Capital Territory (2.27), South Australia (1.93), the Northern Territory (1.92), Tasmania (1.82) and Victoria (0.77).

Similarly, Queensland also recorded the highest number of occasions of intent to restrain (2.64) followed by WA (1.81), Tasmania (1.35), the NT (1.16), NSW (0.89), Victoria (0.76), SA (0.63) and the ACT (0.51).

The aged care quality indicator program, which became mandatory on 1 July 2019, collects data from residential aged care services every three months on pressure injuries, use of physical restraint and unplanned weight loss.

Two additional quality indicators – falls and major injury and medication management – were added to reporting requirements on 1 July 2021 and will be included all future quarterly reports.

Access the report.

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