Most older people bounce back from hospital admission

More than eighty per cent of older people admitted to hospital return home once they are discharged, a new AIHW report finds. Meanwhile, aged care residents are more than twice as likely as other older Australians to be admitted because of a fall.

The majority of older Australians who are admitted to hospital are able to return to their home in the community after they are discharged, according to new figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Movement between hospital and residential aged care 2008-09, showed that 83 per cent of patients returned to their home in the community after hospitalisation and four per cent were admitted into residential aged care or transition care.

AIHW spokesperson Dr Pamela Kinnear said factors such as age and having dementia increased the likelihood of a person entering care after being discharged.

“People were more likely to be admitted into residential aged care than return to the community if they were in hospital for longer, were diagnosed with dementia or stroke, were older, had an unplanned hospital admission, or were in palliative care before being discharged,” Dr Kinnear said.

About 10 per cent of the 1.1 million hospitalisations a year for older Australians were for people who lived in residential aged care. 

Dr Briony Dow, Director, Health Promotion at the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) and incoming president of the Australian Association of Gerontology said the figures showed older people were more resilient than might have been thought.

“Most older people are bouncing back after a hospital admission and going home, especially those who do not have a co-morbidity, such as dementia, and who have a short length of stay,” Dr Dow said. 

“This reinforces the message that hospital stays for older people should be kept as short as possible, not only to avoid functional decline but to reduce the risk of an admission into a residential aged care facility.”

According to the report, respiratory conditions were the leading cause of admission into hospital for permanent aged care residents, while circulatory conditions were most common for people admitted from the community.

However, aged care residents were twice as likely as other older Australians to be admitted to hospital because of a fall (10 per cent versus 5 per cent).

Report at a glance

For the 90% of older people admitted to hospital from the community:

  • 83% returned home
  • 4% admitted to transition care or residential care
  • 3%  death

For the 10% admitted to hospital from residential care

  • 8% returned to their residential care home
  • 2% death

Read the full report: Movement between hospital and residential aged care 2008-09

Tags: aihw, briony-dow, discharge, hospitalisation, report, transfers,

1 thought on “Most older people bounce back from hospital admission

  1. Great article and report, Dr Kinnear. Would be interesting to know what percentage of discharges were admitted to residential aged care because the house and/or home environment was unsuitable for living independently. Family and friends, home mobility and potential for isolation are all considerations on discharge.

    Stats from the UK suggest +90% of people ending up in residential care do so because there is no where else suitable for them to go. Wonder if this is the same in Australian discharges?

    If so, would prompt the need for more appropriate aged housing that addresses mobility and companionship.

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