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Study puts a figure on community care’s impact

Each additional hour of community care older adults receive per week is associated with a six per cent lower risk of entry into permanent residential care, a new study has found.

Published in JAMDA, the research also found that people who were predominant users of social support services — such as one-on-one companionship visits at home and assistance to attend community-based social activities — stayed in their own homes for longer, compared with those predominately receiving domestic assistance, personal care or in-home respite.

The study suggested that improving outcomes for older adults may require a shift in focus from exclusively meeting physical needs to ensuring each person has access to social engagement opportunities.

Dr Mikaela Jorgensen from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University said: “Nearly one million older Australians access home and community aged care services each year, at a cost to the government of over $4 billion. Yet, this study is the first in Australia, and one of very few internationally, to connect service use and meaningful outcomes in home and community care.”

Jorgensen said the results show that having greater access to community care services may be an effective way of supporting older Australians to remain in their own homes for longer.

“This study shows that home care services do help to keep older people in their own home for longer,” she said. “This is what home care is designed to do, but until now there was no-one measuring the outcomes of home care, and what types of services help the most.”

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