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  • Writer's pictureThe Communiqués

Residential Aged Care Communiqué Volume 13 Issue 2 May 2018

In this edition

  • Editorial

  • Guest Editorial

  • Case #1: Nothing seemed out of the ordinary

  • Risk Register: recommendations to prevent harm from injury

  • Case #2: A pain in the back

  • Get Help

  • Commentary #1: Suicidal Behaviour in Residential Aged Care

  • Commentary #2: Suicide PreventionList of Resources

  • Save the date: A Seminar


Welcome to the second edition of the year, one that features a new editor and a single RACC theme that despite its existence, is one that is seldom talked about. Our guest editor is Briony Jain (nee Murphy) who recently completed her PhD on suicide in residential aged care services. In this edition, we draw on two coronial cases – one from Australia and another from Canada, that highlight this complex and troubling theme.

We debated long and hard about whether we should cover this topic, and whether or not to include case reports, as we understand the subject matter is extremely sad and potentially traumatic to readers. We have chosen to publish this issue because if we do not confront the reality of what happens, then how will we know what to change to improve the circumstances? “Due to the nature of the content of this issue, the case studies and commentaries have been edited to contain minimal detail. This aligns our publication with the Mindframe guidelines on reporting suicide and mental illness, to minimise risk to vulnerable persons. Evidence has shown that explicit descriptions of method used for suicide have been linked to increased rates of suicide.

We have two commentaries from experts in the field – Professor Brian Draper who is the Clinical Leader, Academic Department for Old Age Psychiatry at the Prince of Wales Hospital and Heather Miller from the suicide prevention team at beyondblue. Both provide unique insights on the theme, and are encouraging about the actions we can take to reduce harm from suicide and improve care for residents with depression.

We know you often share your thoughts with colleagues and discuss the content of each RACC issue. It is important to continue talking and sharing, especially with this issue. In this way, we will improve our understanding of the causes and warning signs, and promote the actions needed to prevent resident death from suicide.

It was positive to see that the recently released Commonwealth Budget included initiatives designed to provide better access to treatment and management of mental health conditions for aged care residents. This initiative will provide access to selected services such as psychiatrists, psychologists, trained social workers and occupational therapists, funded by the Medicare Benefits Scheme. This included $102.5 million for mental health services for older Australians of which over $82 million is for older Australians in residential aged care.

On a final note, we have provided an Excel spreadsheet that contains all the 104 recommendations from Monash University’s Health Law & Ageing Research Unit report, “Recommendations for prevention of injury-related deaths in residential aged care services”. The spreadsheet is designed to assist each RACS to determine what action they need to take. You will find the eleven recommendations to prevent suicide located in section six. Please feedback to us any suggestions you have on how the spreadsheet that can better serve your needs.


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