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

Joseph Elias Ibrahim, Alice Holmes, Carmel Young, Lyndal Bugeja

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
JournalRisk Management and Healthcare Policy
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • Choice
  • Dignity of risk
  • Forensic gerontology
  • Long-term care
  • Quality of life
  • Risk management

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