A resident’s past fracture and falls history and a diagnosis of dementia are common predictors of fall-related hospitalisations within the first three months of entry to an aged care home, a Registry of Senior Australians study has found.

The study, published in BMC Geriatrics, examined the individual, system, medication and health care related factors of new aged care residents to determine predictors of fall-related hospitalisations.

It also developed risk a risk assessment tool using integrated aged and health care data to help predict the likelihood of a fall within 90 days and one year.

Professor Maria Inacio

The study looked at the data of 32,316 aged care residents aged 65 years or over who permanently entered an aged care home between January 2008 and December 2016.

Lead researcher Professor Maria Inacio said the study found around 4 per cent of residents had a fall-related hospitalisation within three months of entering the facility and 10 per cent of residents had one within a year.

“We really wanted to identify the point that somebody is entering care and whether we can determine what their risk of having these events are in the next year,” Professor Inacio told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Professor Inacio said the study identified 20 common predictors of fall-related hospitalisations within 90 days of entering aged care.

“The common variables are an individual’s past fracture history, their history of falls, and also their diagnosis of dementia,” said Professor Inacio, director of the Registry of Senior Australians at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and adjunct research professor at the University of South Australia.

These three also topped the 27 predictors the study identified for fall-related hospitalisation within a year of entering aged care, although in a different order with dementia most common followed by history of falls and history of fractures.

Professor Inacio said the findings highlight opportunities to minimise the risks of fall-related hospitalisations for new residents.

“About 70,000 people are entering every year and there’s an enormous amount of information that gets collected on these individuals at that point. It’s coming from the assessments that are happening from ACAT [Aged Care Assessment Team], their ACFI [Aged Care Funding Instrument], and their care plans that are being put in place at entry into care.

“There’s a great opportunity for us to act on the risks of these events that they might experience,” she said.

“It’s just another demonstration that at that point of their care path, we can derive new information from all the information that is being collected to prepare for what might be coming. And falls being one of these main things that we’re worried about,” Professor Inacio said.

She said the aged care royal commission highlighted the need for more individualised care and better integration of electronic information into the care of older people.

“Once you integrate that information… we can learn new things that can be used at the point of care,” Professor Inacio said.

“And that’s what we want people to take away from this. If there is a way that we can operationalise the integration of information at the point of care between aged care and healthcare services records, then providers can use that information for in a variety of ways to inform the care planning of their residents.”

Access the study.

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