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Data from BOCSAR recorded more than 900 incidents of assault in aged cares last year.

Assaults in NSW aged care rise to highest level

Assaults reported at NSW aged cares have surged to the highest level in a decade, with the figure more than triple the number recorded a decade earlier.

Data by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) obtained by the ABC found more than 900 incidents were recorded last financial year, a 21 per cent increase from the previous year.

The largest jump was 34 per cent, and occurred in April 2021 when the government bought in the Serious Incidents Response Scheme (SIRS), which might explain the rise in numbers.

The data set does not show if offenders are staff members or a residents, but BOCSAR chief Jackie Fitzgerald told the ABC that carers and family members could be ruled out with "reasonable certainty".

"We don't have many offended details records, so it's hard to know for sure," Ms Fitzgerald said.

"Staff don't seem to be the main offenders – I think we'd have reasonable records if that was the case."

Data from BOCSAR shows assaults in aged care from the past decade

University of Sydney professor of aging and health Lee-Fay Low said inadequate training and high turnover for carers could lead to residents becoming physically aggressive.

"Imagine if someone was trying to get you to go to the toilet, take your pants off, have a shower," Professor Low said.

"If that's not managed well, then you're going to kick, punch, and hit that person."

NSW Police would not say how often officers were called.

However, other data obtained by the ABC shows police recorded 4654 incidents in the last financial year – roughly 12 incidents a day across the state.

Professor Low said generally staff call police as a last resort.

"You should be bringing clinicians and getting clinical input first," she said,

"If you can't get that input straightaway, and it's really dangerous, then perhaps you need to call the police."

Since the beginning of this year, there have been four alleged assaults on residents leading to charges, with only one from an aged care worker.

A spokesperson for the Aged Care Minister said all instances of mistreatment and assault were "taken seriously by the Australian Government", but notifications from the SIRS don't correlate with instances of harm in aged cares.

"The number of reportable incident notifications does not necessarily correlate to the number of instances of harm to an older person in aged care. Reports might include multiple notifications of the same matter, suspected or alleged incidents, and situations where incidents occurred but injury or harm was avoided. Incident rates are being monitored over time to identify trends.

"The Commission is responsible for administering SIRS and reviews all incident notifications. If it finds that a provider has not met their legal obligations, it will take action to hold them to account."

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