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November 20, 2008

Elder Care: Killer Gastro Plagues Aged (Vic. Australia)

Killer gastro plagues aged
By Ben Packham
November 20, 2008

NURSING home residents and hospital patients are more likely to die of gastric illnesses in Victoria than in any other state.
Figures seen by the Herald Sun show a staggering 531 gastro outbreaks in aged-care facilities and hospitals last year infected 9130 Victorians, with 58 of them dying.
New South Wales had 8678 cases and 14 deaths, according to Department of Health and Ageing figures.

Poor hygiene is the cause of many of the deadly outbreaks.
Standards are so bad at many nursing homes the Federal Government has developed a new kit to help cut the number of outbreaks nationally.

It includes instructions on hand washing and the use of surgical masks when dealing with infected people.

"Nursing home residents are often very vulnerable and frail, that's why a gastro outbreak can be dangerous," said agedcarecrisis.com spokeswoman Lynda Saltareli.
In one of the worst Victorian outbreaks in recent times, five residents died at the Broughton Hall aged-care facility in April 2007.


The Camberwell home failed 12 out of 44 basic standards when checked by aged-care auditors, including infection control.

Ms Saltareli said poor staff training ensured rapid transmission of the illness in nursing homes.
"Nursing home staff need to be better versed in basic disease management practices," Ms Saltareli said.

"I had a letter from one woman, the daughter of a resident, who took in a bottle of Dettol to the desk, and the staff said, 'Gee, we haven't even got any for ourselves'," she said.
But Aged and Community Care Victoria defended the industry's performance.

"Aged-care providers have an outstanding record in containing and managing highly infectious diseases such as gastro," ACCV chief Gerard Mansour said.

A spokesman for the Victorian Department of Human Services said the state had good surveillance and reporting systems to guard against the highly contagious illness.
He said a strain of norovirus, which causes most viral gastroenteritis cases, hit the state last year.

SOURCE: The Herald Sun (Vic. Australia)
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