Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) titled ‘Premature deaths of nursing home residents: an epidemiological analysis’ identifies a rise in premature and potentially preventable deaths of nursing home residents across Australia over the past 13 years.
“The research findings indicate that more needs to be done to ensure the safety of our nursing home residents,” said Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN, CEO of the Australian College of Nursing (ACN).
The rise in premature and potentially preventable deaths has coincided with a drop in the proportion of registered nurses in the aged care sector from 21% of the direct care workforce in 2003 to just 14.9% in 2012. The proportion of enrolled nurses also dropped from 13.1% to 11.5% whilst unregistered personal care workers increased from 58.5% to 68.2%.1
“ACN believes that regulation of nursing homes should at a minimum mandate a requirement that a registered nurse (RN) be on-site and available at all times to promote safety and well-being for residents,” said Adjunct Professor Ward.
It has been shown that more RN direct care time per resident per day was strongly associated with better outcomes,2 and an improved RN presence can lead to reduced emergency department transfers.3
The RN scope of practice enables the high level clinical assessment; clinical decision making; nursing surveillance and intervention; service coordination; and clinical and managerial leadership required to meet desired outcomes and to ensure the provision of high quality care.
“Care delivered in nursing homes must be led by RNs. Due to the growing prevalence of co-morbidities associated with physical and cognitive decline, polypharmacy, and greater professional accountability, increasingly the nursing home population requires more complex care that can only be provided under the direct supervision of RNs,” expressed Adjunct Professor Ward.
The research paper can be accessed at https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2017/206/10/premature-deaths-nursing-home-residents-epidemiological-analysis