Third of aged care residents admitted to an emergency department

More than a third of nursing home residents aged 65 or over were taken to an emergency department for treatment at least once during 2018-19, new research from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has revealed.


The most commons reasons for hospital admissions and emergency department presentations were respiratory disease, injuries, circulatory disease, dialysis, and ‘symptoms and signs’.

The latest research from the Aged Care Royal Commission looked at hospitalisation rates among residential aged care residents in a bid to help consumers choose between aged care services, assist the regulator to address non-compliance with care standards, and support aged care providers to improve the quality of services they deliver.

The report says hospitalisations are widely understood to be important indicators for monitoring the quality of aged care services, particularly in residential aged care, but publicly available information is often limited.

To develop a broad picture, the Commission acquired hospital and emergency department data from all states and territories from 2014-15 to 2018-19, then linked the data to aged care records sourced from the Commonwealth Department of Health.

Findings reveal a large number of nursing home residents aged 65 or over are hospitalised each year, often for reasons that are potentially preventable.

In 2018-19, 36.9% of residents were taken to an emergency department at least once, with respiratory disease, injuries and circulatory disease among the leading causes.

The numbers equate to about 966 public hospitalisations, 290 private hospitalisations and 938 emergency department presentations per 1,000 people living in permanent residential aged care.

The report also presents hospitalisation indicators for permanent aged care residents based on the Registry of Senior Australians (ROSA) Outcome Monitoring System.

Findings show that in 2018-19:

  • 5% of residents had one or more hospitalisations for a fall
  • 4% of residents had one or more hospitalisations for a fracture
  • 9% of residents had one or more hospitalisations with weight loss/malnutrition
  • 5% of residents were hospitalised for an adverse medication event
  • Of residents entering or re-entering an aged care facility from hospital, 22.2% had an emergency department re-presentation within 30 days
  • 4% of residents had one or more hospitalisations with a pressure injury

To access Research Paper 18: Hospitalisations in Australian Aged Care: 2014-15-2018-19 click here

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