Falls are frequent among older adults and have significant health and economic consequences. There have been few studies on the epidemiology of falls in residential aged care facilities (RACFs). This study aimed to determine the incidence of falls in RACFs using longitudinal routinely collected incident data over five years (Jul 2014-Dec 2019).
A retrospective cohort study using fall incident data from 25 RACFs in Sydney, NSW, Australia. Incidents relating to a population of 6,163 aged care residents aged ≥65 years were included. Outcome measures were incidents of all falls; injurious falls, and requiring hospitalisation. Risk-adjusted incidence rate (IR) for each outcome indicator for each of the 25 facilities was calculated.
A total of 27,878 falls were reported over 3,906,772 resident days (a crude rate of 7.14/1000 resident days; 95% confidence interval (CI) 6.81-7.48). Of these, 10,365 (37.2%) were injurious and 2,733 (9.8%) required hospitalisation. The crude IR for injurious falls was 2.65/1000 resident days (95% CI 2.53-2.78) and 0.70 (95% CI 0.66-0.74) for falls requiring hospitalisation. The incidence of falls was significantly higher in respite compared to permanent residents for all falls (adjusted incident rate ratio (aIRR) 1.33; 95% CI 1.18-1.51) and injurious falls (aIRR 1.30; 95% CI 1.14-1.48) and for men compared to women for all outcomes (all falls aIRR 1.69; 95% CI 1.54-1.86; injurious falls aIRR 1.87; 95% CI 1.71-2.04 and falls requiring hospitalisation aIRR 1.29; 95% CI 1.12-1.48). The risk-adjusted IRs per 1000 resident days between facilities varied substantially (all falls 0.57-12.93 falls; injurious falls 0.25-4.47 and falls requiring hospitalisation 0.10-1.70).
Falls are frequent in RACFs, often resulting in injury and hospitalisation. The study provides robust and comprehensive information that may help inform future initiatives to minimise the incidence of falls in RACFs.