Preventing stressful, and often unnecessary, hospital admissions for older Australians living in aged care facilities is the aim of a new $1.9 million program funded by the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

The Early Detection of Deterioration in Elderly residents (EDDIE+) programme will be trialled in 12 aged care facilities to upskill nursing staff to identify signs of deterioration early so that residents can be proactively cared for in a familiar environment and avoid a hospital stay.

Health economist Dr Hannah Carter, from QUT’s Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation in the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) said caring for elderly residents in their nursing home had benefits for both patients and healthcare providers.

“We know being admitted to hospital is stressful for older people and family members and increases the risk of adverse complications,” Dr Carter said.

“Residents and their families much prefer to receive care in their familiar surroundings.

“A hospital bed costs around $1500 per day and many hospital admissions of aged care residents are deemed unnecessary and preventable.

“The EDDIE+ program is designed to enhance the skills and confidence of nursing and care staff and give them additional resources to identify and prevent deterioration.”

Dr Carter said tailored training and equipment such as bladder scans and ECG machines would be provided to staff in 12 not-for-profit nursing homes managed by study partner Bolton Clarke.

“Earlier research has identified eight factors that have the potential to lead to an elderly person being admitted to hospital which can, with training and resources, be cared for in the nursing home,” Dr Carter.

“These are urinary tract infection, dehydration, constipation, chest pain, breathing difficulty, delirium, falls and palliative care.

“Currently, there are about 30 hospital admissions per 100 nursing home beds transferred to hospital each year. The aim for the EDDIE+ program is to significantly reduce this figure, saving elderly patients distress and disruption and lessening the burden on the hospital system.

“When we modelled the program in a cohort of 1,000 residents, it resulted in a total of 1,606 fewer hospital bed days a year which was a cost saving of $2.6 million to the Australian health care system.”




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