Safety blitz at aged care homes

29 May 2024

Residential aged care facilities across South Australia will be audited by the state’s safety regulator to reduce the risk of injury to residents and staff.

SafeWork SA inspectors will this month start compliance checks on how staff are using equipment and other techniques to move residents with limited mobility from one location to another.

This could include transferring residents from a bed to a chair or bath, from a wheelchair to a toilet, or repositioning them in their bed.

SafeWork SA inspectors will provide education, operational guides and checklists to ensure staff follow correct procedures.

Facilities found to be non-compliant may be issued with compliance notices to remedy the matter within a specified timeframe if it cannot be addressed while the inspectors are on-site.

Equipment commonly used to move residents in aged care facilities include ceiling hoists, patient lifters, stretchers, wheelchairs and slide sheets.

The long-term campaign will look at:

  • staff having appropriate training
  • equipment that is accessible and adequately maintained
  • facilities adequately controlling risks associated with hazardous manual tasks.

The campaign will cover private and state-run residential aged care facilities throughout metropolitan and regional SA.

Manual handling of people continues to be a significant issue in the aged care industry.

From 2019 to 2023, ReturnToWork SA received an average of 733 claims per year within residential care services, in particular aged care residential services.

The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2023-2033 identifies health care and the social assistance industry as one of the six high-risk industries that contribute to 70 per cent of fatalities and 58 per cent of serious workers’ compensation claims.

SafeWork SA will work with facilities so they can deliver long-term improvements to the way equipment is used to handle people.