Nursing homes are often a necessity, as they provide around the clock care to those who need it. Deciding to put a family member into such a facility is a hard decision, but one that is usually the most logical. The whole premise of a nursing home is to ensure the longevity of the elderly. However, according to a new study done in Australian nursing homes, premature deaths are on the rise.
Patient safety is often one of the pillars of any good nursing home. It provides the family comfort in the knowledge that their loved ones are getting the best care possible during these last years of life. But deaths from falls, choking, suicide, and even homicide accounted for nearly 3,300 deaths during the 13-year-long study. This is more than a 400 percent increase in the incidence of premature death and potentially preventable deaths of nursing home residents in the past decade.
It should be noted that this study is the first of its kind in Australian nursing homes, and much of this data has been provided through better reporting. So, this initial data collection may seem shocking, as there is little to compare it with.
The results of the study found that of the 21,672 deaths that occurred during the study period, 15.2 percent or 3,289 were from external or preventable causes.
External causes include falls, choking, and clinical complication. Suicide and resident-to-resident assault also led to death in some cases.
“Professionals from governments and the nursing home sector should develop strategies for preventing these deaths and establish a lead authority, responsible for reducing harm by improving practice in nursing homes. Currently, no one entity is responsible for reducing harm by improving practice,” said study lead Professor Joseph Ibrahim from the Monash University Faculty of Medicine.
By devoting more time and resources to understanding the reasons behind these unfortunate deaths, quality of life can be improved. This study helps shed some light on an area of health care that has gone unnoticed for some time. The identification of premature deaths in nursing homes has provided a platform to review how these operations are run.
As the life expectancy of humans continues to rise, the number of living seniors is increasing. Many families have no choice but to put their mothers and fathers into a nursing home, and they need to know that it’s safe.