The go-to tool used to determine people’s risk of falling in aged care homes is “out of date” and poses a safety risk, according to researchers from Macquarie University.
Experts analysed data from nearly 6000 elderly residents across 25 care homes which used the Peninsula Health Falls Risk Assessment tool (PH-FRAT) to measure risk of falls.
They found nearly 66 per cent of residents at risk of falling went unidentified by the instrument, which is included in official healthcare guidelines.
The tool accurately predicted a fall in only 33.6 per cent of residents.
When researchers lowered the cut-off score at which people were assessed to be at risk of a fall, the reliability of predicting an incident rose from 33.6 per cent to 74 per cent.
Lead researcher Dr Nasir Wabe from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie said providers can make tweaks to improve the tool.
“For residential aged care facilities already using the tool, lowering the cut-off score at which a person is deemed to be at higher risk is a change that can be implemented easily and will immediately improve the safety of residents,” he said.
“Further improvements will be made when electronic systems, such as those being developed at Macquarie University, can analyse routinely collected data about a resident and use it to predict the risk in real-time, rather than relying on what could be a one-off and potentially out of date assessment.”
On average, aged care residents are up to five times more likely to suffer a fall compared to those living in the general community.
Research from the aged care royal commission found 81 per cent of preventable deaths in aged care homes were due to falls.
In collaboration with aged care providers, Macquarie University is currently working on developing a new model for predicting falls using routine electronic health data.
The project, announced in 2021, followed a systematic review which showed a lack of predictive falls risk models available to services.Do you have an idea for a story?
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