BMJ Publishing Group
Centre for Research in Aged Care / School of Nursing and Midwifery
Objectives: To use publicly available submissions and evidence from the Australian Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety as data for secondary qualitative analysis. By investigating the topic of emergency department transfer from the perspective of residents, family members and healthcare professionals, we aimed to identify modifiable factors to reduce transfer rates and improve quality of care. Design: The Australian Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has made over 7000 documents publicly available. We used the documents as a large data corpus from which we extracted a data set specific to our topic using keywords. The analysis focused on submissions and hearing transcripts (including exhibits). Qualitative thematic analysis was used to interrogate the text to determine what could be learnt about transfer events from a scholarly perspective. Results: Three overarching themes were identified: shortfalls and failings, reluctance and misunderstanding, and discovery and exposure. Conclusions: The results speak to workforce inadequacies that have been central to problems in the Australian aged care sector to date. We identified issues around clinical and pain assessment, lack of consideration to advance care directives and poor communication among all parties. We also highlighted the role that emergency departments play in identifying unmet clinical needs, substandard care and neglect. Given the inadequate clinical care available in some residential aged care facilities, transferring residents to a hospital emergency department may be making the best of a bad situation. If the objective of reducing unnecessary transfers to emergency departments is to be achieved, then access to appropriate clinical care is the first step.
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