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Residents have more antipsychotics, GP visits but fewer hospitalisations


People in residential aged care are much more likely to have antipsychotic medications than those receiving aged care and support services in the home, a new report from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare shows.

The report released last week uses 2016-17 data to explore how people’s use of primary care, medicines and hospitals varies with use of aged care.

It looks at people aged 50 and over who used only one type of aged care program during the year – residential aged care, home care under the Home Care Packages Program, or home support under the Commonwealth Home Support System – or no aged care services.

It found that 28 per cent of aged care residents had at least one antipsychotic dispensed compared to 8 per cent of home care and 4 per cent of home support clients.

Residents living in government-run aged care facilities were the most likely to have one antipsychotic dispensed (33-36 per cent) followed by those living in privately-owned facilities (28-32 per cent) and residents living in not-for-profit run aged care facilities (26-27 per cent).

Use of primary, hospital services varies

Aged care residents were less likely to have at least one general practitioner visit (92 per cent) than home care (98 per cent) and home support (96 per cent) clients.

However, on average aged care residents had 25 visits a year, which is almost once a fortnight, compared to an average of 16 and 17 visits respectively for home care and home support recipients.

The report found aged care residents were less likely to visit hospital emergency (32 per cent) than people using home care (38 per cent) or home support (37 per cent) services.

Aged care residents were also less likely to be hospitalised (37 per cent) than home care (58 per cent) and home support (51 per cent) recipients but people not accessing any aged care service were the least likely (14 per cent).

Of those who were hospitalised, aged care residents were more likely to be admitted for a fall-related injury (10 per cent) than those receiving home care (2 per cent) and home support (6 per cent).

Report shows potential power of data

AIHW spokesperson Louise York said linking existing data allows them to study and discover trends in how individuals use health and aged care services.

“This report illustrates the potential power of data to build an evidence base in key areas of social policy,” Ms York said.

As expected, aged care and support recipients were more likely to use GP and hospital services than non recipients, but the frequency of health care use varied by type of aged care program, Ms York said.

The analysis provides a useful baseline for future work, she said.

“The AIHW will continue to build a more robust approach to national data on health and aged care, which can be used to inform improvements in services for older Australians,” she said.

Access the report, Interfaces between the aged care and health systems in Australia – first results, here.

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