Injury data reveals extent and causes of aged care residents being admitted to hospital

Hazard Edition 84

The extent of unintentional injury-related hospital admissions among aged care residents in Victoria has been revealed by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC).

The latest edition of Hazard, a publication by MUARC’s Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU), has found there was a total of 14,896 unintentional injury-related hospital admissions among aged care residents over the ten-year period 2007/8 to 2016/17.

While the data covers residents aged over 65 years, the majority of admissions (64.8%) were accounted by those aged 85 years and older. Females accounted for 70.6% of all admissions.

The hospital admissions cost an estimated $23.4 million AUD during the period 2014/15-2015/16, with 56.7% of costs attributed to those aged 85-94 years.

Dr Janneke Berecki-Gisolf, VISU Director, said an ageing population meant there was a need to understand trends in hospital admissions among older aged care residents.

The report identified a trend of older people choosing to remain in their own home rather than moving into aged care, with the rate of population ageing in Victoria greater than the increase in aged care bed-days from 2007/8 to 2016/17. As such, the report recommends State and Federal-funded investigations into injury and injury prevention among those receiving care in their own home.

The most common type of injury was fractures, which accounted for 40.6% of admissions and 54.7% of admissions among residents with dementia. Open wounds to the head were the next most common (12.4%).

With most injuries occurring because of falls (87.9% for all residents and 88.1% for those with dementia), the report states, “Falls prevention and post-fall management should remain the main focus of injury prevention efforts in residential aged care.”

Among those with dementia, the second most common cause of admission was choking/suffocating (3.1%); this was less common among those without a hospital-recorded dementia diagnosis (1.1%). The report recommends the development and/or implementation of choking and suffocation preventive guidelines and standards specific to residents with dementia.

Particular preventive measures are also recommended for those aged 85 years and older, with the age group having the highest frequency and rate of injury-related hospital admissions.

The full edition of Hazard, including further recommendations, can be found here.