RACFs beneficial for those with dementia: AIHW

Friday, 20 October, 2023

RACFs beneficial for those with dementia: AIHW

Australians living with dementia who move into residential aged care after a hospital stay are less likely to be readmitted to hospital within one year than those who return to living in the community, according to a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

‘Transitions to residential aged care after hospital for people living with dementia’ explores how people living with dementia move between hospitals and residential aged care and their subsequent use of health services following the hospitalisation.

The study focused on people’s first hospitalisation in 2017 and compared transitions to residential aged care or mortality in the 7 days, 3 months and 12 months after discharge for people living with dementia and people without dementia.

The report found that approximately 38% of people living with dementia who entered residential aged care after being hospitalised were readmitted to hospital within 12 months, a lower rate than the 62% who continued living in the community. It also found they were less likely to have an emergency department presentation (50%) compared with 63%.

“The care needs of people living with dementia increase as their dementia progresses, which often results in people living with dementia moving into residential aged care to receive ongoing care, or changing facilities as care needs change,” AIHW spokesperson Louise Gates said.

“Having a better understanding of how people with dementia access health services and move between hospitals and residential aged care can contribute to improvements in the health and aged care systems and policies to better meet the needs of Australians living with dementia.”

It found that in a single year, 79,000 people aged 65 or older living with dementia were hospitalised for any reason, including their dementia. Of these people, 49,000 people were living in the community prior to their hospitalisation while the remainder lived in residential aged care.

“One in 4 (23%) of those people who lived in the community prior to their hospitalisation moved to residential aged care within one week of leaving hospital. This increased to 1 in 3 (33%) at 3 months and to 37% at 12 months after leaving hospital,” Gates said.

The 2021 Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommended better integration between health and aged care systems to improve outcomes for older Australians and structural changes in data capture to allow the interaction between health and aged care systems to be monitored.

This report used data from the National Integrated Health Services Information (NIHSI), a linked data asset which brings together deidentified information on hospital care, deaths, residential aged care services, prescription medication and services under the Medical Benefits Schedule.

Due to data availability at the time of study, changes in health and care aged care services following recent aged care reforms and the COVID-19 pandemic were not examined.

Image credit: iStock.com/Ridofranz

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