Calls for more staff as shock aged care stats revealed

 

AGED care residents are suffering head injuries from falls at 10 times the rate of other elderly Australians.

Shocking new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reveals that a record 26,812 nursing home residents had to be taken to hospital after falling over in aged care facilities in 2016-17.

Despite living under supervision, they were 10 times more likely than other elderly Australians to be hurt falling over.

Elderly women were twice as likely as men to be injured from falls in aged care - with 18,396 women sent to hospital compared to 8416 men.

The fresh data, to be released today, reveals that one in every nine nursing home residents was sent to hospital due to a fall during 2016-17 - compared to just one in 55 elderly Australians living in the community.

 

More than 125,000 Australians over the age of 64 were hospitalised due to falls in 2016-17. Picture: iStock
More than 125,000 Australians over the age of 64 were hospitalised due to falls in 2016-17. Picture: iStock

 

Alarmingly, 4.4 out of every 100 aged care residents were sent to hospital with head injuries from a fall during 2016-17 - compared to fewer than one in 200 Australians living in their own homes.

The AIHW data shows that 125,021 Australians older than 64 were hospitalised due to falls - making up three quarters of hospital admissions for elderly Australians during 2016-17.

Aged Care Crisis advocate Dr Michael Wynne said nursing homes need more staff to care for residents.

"The risk of falls increases when there are too few nursing staff to take those residents who are less mobile and need help to the toilet,'' he said yesterday.

"Competitive pressure for profit has seen uncontrolled erosion of staff numbers and skills, and workloads are unmanageable.''

Thirty-two Queensland aged care homes failed government quality audits in 2018-19, including 15 deemed a "serious risk'' to patients.

Nurses Professional Association of Queensland assistant secretary Jack McGuire said some unqualified carers working in nursing homes did not know how to look after frail residents properly.

"When you have under-trained and under-skilled individuals in aged care working with vulnerable people, in hurried and rushed circumstances, of course there will be trips and oversights,'' he said.

The Courier-Mail has revealed how two elderly residents died after falls in two Queensland nursing homes.

Queensland's Coroner found in July that 89-year-old George Fenech died of a heart attack after being taken to hospital with a bleeding head and covered in bruises from an "unwitnessed fall'' at TriCare Nursing Home in Biggera Waters on the Gold Coast in November 2017.

His daughter Marea told the Coroner her father had complained that nightshift staff at TriCare were "reluctant, too busy, not caring, not interested in taking him to the bathroom'' and he had to wait up to half an hour for assistance.

The Coroner also found that an 86-year-old woman died of a brain haemorrhage after falling out of bed and hitting her head during a sponge bath at the Blue Care Yurana Aged Care home in Springwood in January 2016.