Almost 4000 assaults were reported in aged care facilities last year: royal commission

Glenys Beauchamp at the royal commission in Adelaide. Source: Supplied

The number of assaults in Australian aged care facilities in the last financial year has been revealed at the aged care royal commission.

More than 3700 incidents of assault were reported in Australian nursing homes in the 2017-18 financial year, with the actual numbers of assaults likely to be higher, the royal commission has heard.

The 3773 reported assaults equates to between one and two per cent of all people in residential care, and the figure does not include incidents where residents with mental impairment attacked each other, Federal Health Department Secretary Glenys Beauchamp said. 

"In terms of under-reporting, we do need to be attentive both in government, in providers and certainly families and carers, to any allegations or suspicions of assault," Ms Beauchamp said.

In response to calls for a national database to keep tabs on aged care workers, Ms Beauchamp said there was "some merit in having information about the expertise, knowledge and the quality of carers".

"It's something that we'll be looking at as a government in the context of a workforce strategy," she said.

When it came to discussing the use of mandatory CCTV in public areas of residential care facilities, Ms Beauchamp said there was a need for consultation with families and service providers.

"I think there would be need for a substantial amount of consultation both with care recipient families and certainly service providers in implementing CCTV," she said.

The royal commission, which kicked off in Adelaide last Monday, has been tasked with investigating both the quality and safety of aged care facilities across the country after mistreatment and abuse at the Oakden nursing home was revealed. 

The commission will sit in Adelaide for the remainder of the week. It has already received more than 800 public submissions and responses from about 900 aged care providers.

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