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Risk Manag Healthc Policy. 2019 Feb 27;12:31-39. doi: 10.2147/RMHP.S159073. eCollection 2019.

Managing risk for aging patients in long-term care: a narrative review of practices to support communication, documentation, and safe patient care practices.

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Health Law and Ageing Research Unit, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3006, Australia,


Resident safety and welfare in long-term care (LTC) is being redefined as the focus shifts to promoting an optimal quality of life especially in LTC. Achieving this requires contemporary practice to improve the organization and staff's ability in identifying, communicating, documenting, and managing the risks that arise from the choices a person makes in pursuit of a better quality of life. This article is a narrative realist style review examining the issues of how to manage risks for older residents living in LTC. The issues are examined in six stages: context, identifying, communicating, documenting, enacting, reviewing and reflecting on how choices are made and risks managed. It is important for individuals to be supported in making an informed choice - this requires identifying, providing, and communicating the available options and the potential consequences. Documenting consent, perhaps with formal risk agreements, provides clarity for all involved and assists in determining how and who is responsible for enacting choices. Reviewing and reflecting upon the decisions and actions to enact choices are familiar to prudent LTC managers who implement and monitor robust governance systems. Learning from these experiences is essential to better meet individual resident, staff, organizational, and community expectations. Improving practice at each of the six steps should reduce adverse professional and legal repercussions and enable the resident, families, and staff to better cope with respecting choices when a known harmful outcome eventuates.


choice; dignity of risk; forensic gerontology; long-term care; quality of life; risk management

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure The authors are affiliated with and employed by the Health Law and Ageing Research Unit, Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University, which is also a funding source. The authors have no other potential financial or personal interests that may constitute a source of bias.

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