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Reducing Hospitalisations in Aged Care Facilities

Looking at How to Reduce Hospitalisation in Aged Care Facilities by Improving Aged Care Support Services

With an increasingly ageing population, the burden on hospitals is significant. By reducing the number of admissions to hospitals from aged care homes, the burden reduces. It can also be traumatic for an elderly person to go to the hospital and be moved from their regular environment.

Although the elderly often have several chronic health conditions, many emergency transfers to hospitals can be reduced and better still, prevented through the education of aged care staff and residents alike.

Improved nurse-to-patient ratios in aged care will help to reduce emergency hospitalisations, but also understanding the clients who’re most frequently presenting to a hospital will aid in the reduction of admissions.

Many people have no choice but to present to an emergency if they’re ill. However, there are many preventative measures that are implementable in aged care homes as well as within the community/ home care setting.

Falls Risk

Falls occur for many reasons. The most common reasons for falls include medications and their side effects, and other health issues such as urinary tract infections or neuropathy as a result of unmanaged diabetes.

elderly woman on floor after fall

Falls are a major reason for hospital admissions among the elderly population. There are steps that can be taken to reduce falls. Although most falls occur among those who’re aged 85 years and over, almost 1/3 of Australians over 65 years fell in the last 12 months. We simply aren’t doing enough to provide education in regard to the prevention of falls.

Medication Errors

Poorly managed medication administration is also a reason for hospitalisation. This can be a result of frequently missing essential medications such as diabetes medication, or having too much of one medication due to administration errors. Many people in aged care facilities take several medications that can alter their level of consciousness, their gait, and their skin integrity to name a few.

man with pill bottle

Accessing aged care support services, and having medications assessed regularly by a G.P. or Pharmacist is beneficial. Also, by providing ongoing education to health care staff regarding medication administration, the rates of hospitalisation as a result of medication errors will reduce.

Wound Care & Pressure Injuries

Chronic wounds including vascular ulcers, wounds as a result of poorly managed diabetes, and pressure injuries can all result in potentially unnecessary hospitalisations. Regular pressure area care for the immobile resident is necessary and isn’t an optional task when working in aged care support services.

All aged care staff are responsible for reducing the risk of pressure injuries and consequently preventing unnecessary hospital admissions. Having chronic wounds treated by qualified health professionals is also paramount in preventing hospitalisations.

Cleansing hand wound

Keeping Active

Additionally, by staying active, both physically and mentally, the risk of presenting at an emergency department is significantly reduced. The range of health benefits for all ageing Australians in keeping active is undeniable. Being active helps you sleep, reduces your risk of falls, decreases pain and disability, prevents pressure injuries, aids bone health, reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis, and much more. Let’s face it, being active will reduce potentially unnecessary admissions to hospitals.

Prevention & Risk Reduction

So, with all of this in mind, what can a resident in an aged care facility do to reduce the risk of hospitalisation? Here are some tips:

  • Walk, but do it safely. Use your walking aids, and take a companion with you. Receive assistance when walking if you need it.
  • Move around on your bed or chair as much as possible. Staying in one spot for too long can cause major damage to your skin and underlying tissue. If you need help to move, never be afraid to ask. It’s your body, and it’s the aged care staff’s duty of care to prevent pressure injuries.
  • Keep your mind active. Many facilities offer aged care support services that encourage activities. Play card games, listen to audiobooks, or write letters to your family. Doing puzzles or something like knitting is great for your mind too.
  • Eat healthily and regularly. Keep up your nutritional status and stay hydrated.
  • Maintain your hygiene by handwashing regularly and showering frequently.
  • Don’t get up too quickly, and get somebody to help you if you need it. If you have an urgency to go to the toilet, you can speak with a continence nurse about a management plan. Rushing to the toilet significantly increases risk of falling and injuring yourself.
  • If you’re feeling unwell, or you notice changes to your health, please let a doctor or nurse know about it. Many times, treatments are available at the nursing home by nurses and doctors and don’t require hospitalisation.

Advanced Planning

Finally, advanced care planning is so important in reducing unnecessary hospitalisations. Do you have an advanced health directive? Are your family, your doctor and the aged care facility aware of your end-of-life wishes? For further information on advanced care planning, speak with your G.P. or seek legal advice.

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