Over 50 per cent of Commonwealth-funded community care clients report experiencing mild or severe depression, according to a Baptcare study launched today.
The ‘Predictors Influencing the Change in Health Status of Elderly in Community Care’ (PITCH) study is the first of its kind in Australia.
It followed 300 Baptcare clients on Commonwealth-funded care packages (CACPs, EACH and EACHD packages) over a 12 month period.
The study examined the areas of physical and mental health, social and community service interaction and the level of strain on informal carers.
Baptcare’s CEO, Jeff Davey said he hoped the study would be used to shape the future of community care in Australia.
“It is anticipated that the PITCH study will be used by service providers, consumers and funding agencies across the country to inform the delivery of community aged care packages, and to develop strategies to improve the health related quality of life of those receiving community packages.”
Over the one-year period, 44 per cent of clients experienced a major change of health status and high levels of co-morbidity were documented.
Cardiovascular was the most common chronic condition among survey participants.
“For the first time, we have a sense of the extent of the health related issues in this group and the rate of change over a 12 month period,” said Associate Professor Christopher Reid from the School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine at Monash University.
“This can help to plan for addressing these health related needs in a more effective manner.”
The study also confirmed existing concerns about carer strain.
More than 60 per cent of participants had an informal carer but close to two thirds of carers recorded high levels of carer strain.
“This report once again confirms the high levels of strain on family carers, who we know experience poorer health and wellbeing than most members of our community,” said Carers Victoria CEO, Maria Bohan.
“This study will hopefully encourage government and service providers to focus on strategies to improve the quality of life of older people and their carers.”