Greater volume of home care services and social support are associated with significantly delayed entry into permanent residential aged care, according to new research.
Researchers from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University looked at the service use and outcomes of 1,116 older adults who began accessing a Home Care Package between July 2015 and June 2016 via the electronic care management data of a large aged care provider operating in NSW and the ACT.
The study aimed to see whether there was an association between the volume and type of services that people received and how quickly they were admitted into permanent residential aged care.
The researchers found that each additional hour of service received per week was associated with a 6 per cent lower risk of entry into permanent care, said lead investigator Dr Mikaela Jorgensen, a research fellow at AIHI’s Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research.
“The more hours of home care services that people accessed, the lower their risk of entry into residential care,” Dr Jorgensen told Australian Ageing Agenda.
“We also found that people who were predominant users of social support services stayed in their own homes for longer,” she said.
The study identified groups of clients based on similar patterns of types of services.
People in the social support cluster used social support services for two hours per week on average alongside other home care services for two hours per week, Dr Jorgensen said.
“People in the social support cluster had delayed entry into residential care compared to those predominately receiving domestic assistance, personal care, or in-home respite,” she said.
Dr Jorgensen will share the findings of her research at the Australian Association of Gerontology national conference, which takes place in Perth on 8 – 10 November.
Implications for all stakeholders
People who access a home care package are required to have greater control over the types of care and services they access under consumer-directed care but there is little published information connecting service use and meaningful outcomes, Dr Jorgensen said.
“This research provides evidence for consumers, care providers and policy makers about how home care services may be utilised to optimise outcomes.”
The study also demonstrates the possibilities of using electronic data collected by aged care providers to monitor care over time, she said.
Dr Jorgensen said further work was needed to investigate how community care services impacted other key outcomes, such as quality of life and social participation.
The research has recently been accepted for publication in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.
Dr Mikaela Jorgensen is presenting at the AAG conference on 10 November.
Australian Ageing Agenda is the media partner of the Australian Association of Gerontology.
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