Jul 17, 2017

Do All Aged Care Residents Need To Be There?

When is it time to send a loved one into aged care? It’s a complicated question that has a different answer for everyone. For some, it’s when their loved one can no longer care for themselves at home. For others, it’s when their loved one needs more constant support than what they can offer.

Aged care is a growing industry, with millions of people of people living in facilities needing care and assistance. However, are there people living in aged care who do not need to be there? A new report seems to think so.

A new study from Canada has found that one fifth of residents in aged care facilities in Canada do not need to be there – rather, they could have continued to remain at home for longer if the had the proper support and resources.

Though the study was based in Canada, much of the analysis and discussion it raises can be applied to many western countries, including Australia.

The report “Seniors in Transition”, released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, highlighted the need for health organisations to plan and coordinated their services as people get older.

It also found that older people in hospitals are six times more likely to go directly into residential aged care than those who are assessed for long-term care from their own homes.

“Hospitals were designed for short-term stays, but with seniors, they often have multiple conditions,” MacDonald said, “they present with one condition, but there can be a number of things going on.”

The the researches concluded was that it is important to give older patients more time to recuperate before assessing whether they should be in aged care or not.

“What this study shows is we need to be giving a little bit longer to recover before doing an assessment that could determine the rest of their lives,” she said.

“We’ve had a lot of population growth and we’re all feeling the impact of aging. But we haven’t come close to what we’re going to be experiencing in the next 20 years,” said Georgina MacDonald, CIHI’s vice president when speaking speaking specifically about Canada – however, this could apply globally too.

“As a health system, we really need to focus on how we provide the best care for this population. It’s not about the aging population, it’s how do they use the system and how do we be sure to provide the best care.”

In 2017, Canada has 6.2 million people over the age of 65, including 2.6 million over age 75. In Australia, it’s estimated that approximately 15.8% of the population are over 65 – that around 3.6 million people. Both countries are seeing a steep increase in ageing population.

The study found that the average age of a person in aged care is 86, with 70 per cent being female. Of all the residents, only 67 per cent have dementia and 98 per cent have some form of cognitive or physical impairment.

“There’s not a health organization in the country that doesn’t have this on their (radar),” MacDonald said.

“What organizations are really looking at it is how they can provide support in the community to keep people in the community longer. If you look at the projections, it’s very clear we’re going to have to do things a little bit differently tomorrow than we do now. We’re simply not going to be able to build enough beds, nor would we want to.”

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  1. Hospitals push the Aged into the nursing homes when family members aren’t able or are unwilling to look after them at home. Sometimes this is necessary until they have regained their strength or can get extra services arranged in the community. Too often the Aged person isn’t part of the process. They are just told ‘it’s for the best’ and expected to agree.

    1. Denise I have to agree…if I hear one more time ….”it is for the best”. I think the older person is not part of the process…also the pressure is on to make that decision with out all the informative choices being available. Due to time and pressure and high demand for the hospital bed. The fact is the longer an older person is in Hospital the more at risk they are of decline. Hospitals I know are working so hard ,but not equipped to or have time for older people that require that extra time support and care. . It is a system issue . https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8Q1rOoJSoaU

  2. Older people entering hospital are at a higher risk of going into residential care. Quiet often when an older person enters hospital they are at risk of a functional decline and in some cases suffer a delirium. How often do you see older people enter hospital sometimes for something routine and end up there so much longer. The healing and rehabilitation time from this is so much longer. The bed is needed and assessment is done , the person is actually not ready to go home but there is no where else to go . Premature admissions into Residential Care has been happening for a long time. Long term, more community support is a must and this must include community services available after 5pm on a Friday night. What happens if discharged prematurely home and no support systems in place , you are guaranteed the person returns to hospital (becomes a frequent flyer), the deterioration process for this person accelerates . I totally agree, we have to start doing things a lot differently. We are not going to be able to keep up with the projected growth in the next 20 yrs of our ageing population. We are not going to be able to keep up with the bed building nor do we want to . It is going to fall back on community and what we have in place and need to look at putting in place.

  3. the problem these days is a lot of the elderly would probably stay in there own home but it is the isolation factor where they can.t drive anymore the kids are flat out working and cant get to visit because of tight time constraints, to access help it costs money the single pension is not enough and there is the fear factor of robbery and home invasion To go into a retirement village unless you have a bouse that is valued at 400000 or more you can not access these either unless you want to live in a box. They charge weekly fees bonds and exit fees. You work all your life and someone is sitting there waiting to say thank you very much we will take that Greed and big business are having a field day

    1. Heather totally agree, isolation , pressure on immediate family and carers …and not enough supportive services to support an older person at home unless you have the bank balance behind you. A pension can’t sustain this care with all the fees. Then there is the Residential Aged Care Bonds to go into care …you can’t afford it you go on a public waiting list and go into a Care Facility that you have no say or choice in. I have a friend that is paying a $100 a week out of her wages (also an aged care worker single and over age 60) supporting her Mum at home with extra services. Her Mum does not live close by.. She has dementia and my friend said to me …her fear is Mum will fall and break something and pass away in the wait time to get her a bed in a care facility. The bond they are $50,000 short on with even selling her Mums property. So my friend saves, every day she cuts back and saves to get her Mum a bed. This is just one story …welcome to the harsh reality of getting older. I hope we can work together in the future to improve what is currently happening, and come up with some ideas and solutions to put forward to improve our current system. .

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