Report: 1000 cases of abuse at nursing homes each week

More than 1000 older Australians living in nursing homes suffer abuse at the hands of other residents each week - and many cases are not reported. The damning finding was revealed in a report commissioned by the federal government and quietly released last week.

The KPMG report estimates that there were more than 52,600 incidents in Australian nursing homes last year and more than 60 per cent involved residents using unreasonable force against each other.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck.
Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck.

More than 80 per cent of those cases involved residents pushing, kicking, hitting, punching, biting or burning each other. There were also ­reports of emotional and psychological abuse.

In 5 per cent of cases a resident "intentionally" injured another resident with a weapon.

Researchers found that there were at least 1730 incidents - more than 30 cases each week - of aged-care residents sexually abusing each other over a 12-month period.

Those living at facilities with more than 80 residents were at a greater risk of abuse.

"Elder abuse has become more visible and its prevalence appears to be growing," the government-commissioned report found.

"At a national level, over a 12-month period, there may be tens of thousands of incidents."

Nursing homes are currently required to report certain allegations of abuse but incidents are exempt if the ­alleged offender has a cognitive impairment.

Several inquiries and reviews into elder abuse have recommended that the federal government set up a Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) which would remove exemptions and force all nursing homes to notify an independent body of all incidents.

The KPMG report also found the exemptions of certain residents from the reporting system "may not be effective in ensuring a violence and abuse-free environment for residents".

 

Opposition spokeswoman for ageing and seniors Julie Collins. Picture: Matt Thompson
Opposition spokeswoman for ageing and seniors Julie Collins. Picture: Matt Thompson

 

Labor has seized on the data ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Monday, calling on the Morrison government to upgrade its reporting scheme to ensure older Australians "get the safe aged care services they deserve".

"It has been three years since this scheme was first recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission following its investigation of elder abuse in Australia," Opposition spokeswoman for ageing and seniors Julie Collins said.

"Scott Morrison must act immediately."

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said the abuse was unacceptable and the government was committed to a SIRS for residential aged care.

Originally published as Report: 1000 cases of abuse at nursing homes each week


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