More than a third of residents hospitalised each year

Almost four in 10 aged care residents were taken to the emergency department and more three in 10 were admitted to hospital at least once in 2018-19, the latest research from the aged care royal commission shows.

Almost four in 10  aged care residents were taken to the emergency department and more three in 10 were admitted to hospital at least once in 2018-19, the latest research from the aged care royal commission shows.

Just over 10 per cent of aged care residents went to hospital because of a fall in 2018-19, the first-of-its-kind research released on Monday evening shows.

The research looked at over 460,000 unique resident records and linked aged care data to each state and territory’s hospital records to calculate the hospitalisation rates from 2014-15 to 2018-19.

The findings aim to help:

  •  aged care providers improve the quality of the services they deliver
  •  consumers choose between aged care services
  • the regulator address non-compliance with care standards.

It found 37 per cent of residents visited the emergency department at least once and 31 per cent of residents were admitted to hospital at least once in 2018-19, up from 33 per cent and 29 per cent respectively in 2014-15.

The report also found that 25 per cent of residents were hospitalised overnight in 2018-19, slightly up from 25 per cent in 2014-15.

The top reasons for emergency department visits in 2018-19 were related to symptoms and signs and most commonly for the nervous and musculoskeletal systems (26 per cent) followed by injuries (22 per cent) and respiratory issues (12 per cent).

Overnight hospitalisations in 2018-19 were most commonly related to respiratory issues such as  influenza, pneumonia and lung disease (20 per cent) followed by injuries including falls (18 per cent) and circulatory issues (12 per cent).

Hospitalisation indicators

The report also presents hospitalisation indicators for permanent aged care residents based on the Registry of Senior Australia’s Outcome Monitoring System.

In 2018-19, 10.5 per cent of residents had one or more hospitalisations, which includes a visit to the emergency department or an admission, for a fall and 5.4 per cent had one or more hospitalisations for a fracture in 2018-19, up from 8.5 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively in 2014-15.

Fewer residents were hospitalised at least once for pressure injuries (3.4 per cent), weight loss  or malnutrition (1.9 per cent) or for adverse medication events (0.5 per cent).

In 2018-19, 4.1 per cent of residents with a diagnosis of dementia were hospitalised for dementia or delirium, up from 3.1 per cent in 2014-15. This increase may be due to increased detection of dementia and delirium, the report said.

More than one in five of residents revisited the emergency department within 30 days of returning to or entering permanent residential aged care from an overnight hospital stay (22 per cent).

Access the Research Paper 18 – Hospitalisations in Australian Aged Care: 2014/15–2018/19 here.  

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Tags: aged care royal commission, emergency-department, featured, hospital, hospitalisations, hospitalisations in aged care, research paper, royal commission into aged care quality and safety,

4 thoughts on “More than a third of residents hospitalised each year

  1. The study seems to ignore one major point.
    Residents are entering permanent aged care older and more frail than they did in previous years. The increase in hospital admissions should not surprise anyone.

  2. Hospitals are the most dangerous places an aged person can visit.
    My wife fell out of bed in emergency ward, broke her arm.?
    Nappy tripped her, bang on the head?
    Stay out of hopitals if you want to live.

  3. Over the years I have seen a lot of initiatives in residential aged care that try to keep the residents out of hospital, most fail due to fear of providers and GPs. Providers are also fearful of complaints and the time and money in managing those. So in the end everyone goes to hospital to ensure that there can be no backlash on the nursing home or the GP. Some GPs are able to get into the nursing home to decide face to face but many are too busy and cannot attend and make the call by phone or email, and will usually just say “send them off” , some residents don’t want to go, but as usual in this day of Risk Averse management they are sent anyway!, many family override the residents wishes and insist on sending them also, even when the resident has capacity. Some experienced Ambulance staff will not take them to hospital if they deem not appropriate due to ramping at many hospitals- which is great, as the decision has been taken out of the hands of the nursing home, preventing family complaints. Many family think that a hospital is the place that will fix their loved one, and I am a big fan of hospitals, but they can also be a great place to pick up infections too. A tricky business and will continue to be.

  4. John I have never sent a resident off to hospital say for a fall, and they have come back with an infection. I have never encountered a resident going to hospital then being kept in there, because they have picked up an infection in the hospital.

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