The dilemmas of antimicrobial stewardship in aged care: The perspectives of the family members of older Australians
Antimicrobial resistance makes the misuse of antibiotics in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) a significant concern. Family members influence antibiotic prescribing for RACF residents, but there is limited understanding of the beliefs and knowledge that drive their involvement. Drawing on a fictional scenario, forty-six participants with a parent aged 75 or over took part in eight dialogue groups exploring family members’ perspectives on antibiotic use and risks in older relatives. Main themes were identified using framework analysis. Participants supported judicious use of antibiotics in RACFs, but perceived vulnerabilities of older people, both structural and physiological prompt family pressure for antibiotics. Empirical antibiotic use became more acceptable when pathways to a prompt diagnosis are not apparent or confidence in RACF monitoring and care is lacking. The role of antibiotics in end-of-life decision-making was significantly under-recognised. Overall, elevation of discussion around antibiotics and end of life care are required.
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University of Wollongong