400% increase in preventable nursing home deaths? Media reports prompt strong response from ACSA

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CEO Pat Sparrow has issued a strongly-worded statement following a number of press articles on a new study that found the number of recorded deaths in aged care homes from preventable causes had quadrupled from 1.2 per 1000 admissions to 5.3 per 1000 in the past decade.

Falls, choking and suicide were the main causes of preventable deaths, according to Monash University researcher Joe Ibrahim who studied over 23,000 Coroner’s Court cases.

Ms Sparrow says the study, which is based on data from 2000-2013, “clearly demonstrates that the vast majority of deaths in residential aged care are from natural causes.”

Ms Sparrow also said that the data highlighted some of the challenges providers face.

“Falls are cited as the largest cause of death,” she said “It’s worth noting that falls are in fact the highest cause of hospitalisation from injury across the whole community.

This is an area in in which the dignity and rights of the older person must be balanced with safety concerns. Even since this report’s time frame, more research and programs have been designed to provide greater safety to aged care residents.

Ms Sparrow added that the data also underlined the challenge of ensuring access to mental health service in aged care.

“Research reports, such as this one, are always useful to examine and improve care but they shouldn’t be considered in isolation from broader quality care and considerations.”