Why Ratios Matter- NSW Nurses & Midwives’ 2019 Aged Care Survey Report released
In early 2019 the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association surveyed 1608 of its members working to complete a survey about their experiences of the aged care sector in NSW.
The findings of their Aged Care Survey showed 94% of aged care workers had transferred a resident to hospital following a fall in the past year. From the ANZHFR 2018 report, it is known that Concord Hospital receives the highest number of hip fractures originating from RACFs in Australia, accounting for 45% of all patients presenting with hip fracture there. Wollongong, St George Illawarra and Coffs Harbour are also among the top 10 Australian hospitals with the highest incidence of hip fractures occurring in RACFs, with between 30–40% of patients admitted for a hip fracture residing in RACFs.
The NSWNMA estimate this would set the cost of treating these residents in NSW hospitals in excess of $3 million in the past year, putting a signficant burden on the public health system. The figure is likely to be much higher if transport, post-surgical complications and rehabilitation costs are considered.
The survey showed the incidence of referrals to hospital for falls was reduced for those workers employed on a ratio of one Registered Nurse to 0-50 residents or patients, and further reduced where ratios of one to 30 were usual. This suggests the risk of falls is reduced as ratios of Registered Nurses to residents increase, providing evidence in support of mandating safe staffing ratios and skills mix to reduce incidence of potentially avoidable falls and hip fractures in NSW RACFs.