The following report was in the Mature Times
Care home residents get half medical care
Thursday, 29 March 2012
People living in care homes are HALF as likely to visit their local hospital as the rest of the elderly population, research shows.
A study by health think tank Nuffield Trust also showed that those in residential care attended significantly fewer routine medical appointments than those still living in their own homes.
This could be because care homes cater for residents' needs, so hospitalisation is needed less often - or it could be because care homes cut residents off from essential care.
Analysing the health records of over 120,000 older people, the study examined the hospital and social care records from people aged over 75 in four separate areas across the UK.
The research published in the Journal of Health Services Research and Policy looked at the number of people admitted to hospital in the previous year, either as an emergency admission, an outpatient or for an operation.
73 per cent of elderly people receiving care in their homes had been admitted to hospital in the previous year.
But only 58 per cent of those in care homes were admitted in that period.
Similarly those living in care had an average of 1.09 outpatient appointments while those living in their own house had an average of 1.99 - almost twice as many.
This could be because care homes help avoid the need for hospitals - by providing more regular GP supervision or by reducing the risk of falls.
But the figures could reflect problems that people in care have in accessing hospital and medical treatment.
Dr Martin Bardsley, head of research at the Nuffield Trust said the pattern could be a "good thing" or a "bad thing."
He asked: "Is it that for some people care homes are not helping get the access to hospital care that they should have?
"Are we seeing an example of discrimination against some older people living in care homes?
The findings follow revelations earlier this month of institutional failings in the care home system.
Previously unpublished data gathered by the health care watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) revealed that people suffering from incontinence have to wait more than two weeks for an assessment in almost 40 per cent of homes for the elderly surveyed.
More than a third of care homes surveyed admitted delays in getting medication to residents, while some older people have to wait up to three months for formal checks into painful bed sores.
Dr Jennifer Dixon, director of Nuffield Trust said that even more research was needed to understand the causes behind the findings.
by Lucy Fulford