People with dementia who go into residential aged care after a hospital stay are more likely to be readmitted to hospital within a year than those who go back home, a report has found.
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.
Released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the report found about every four in 10 (38 per cent) of people living with dementia who entered residential aged care after being hospitalised were readmitted to hospital within 12 months, a substantially lower rate than those who continued living in the community (six in 10, or 62 per cent).
They were also less likely to have an emergency department presentation (50 per cent) compared with 63 per cent.
Institute spokesperson Louise Gates said 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.
"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," she said.
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, 62 per cent (or 49,000 people) were living in the community prior to their hospitalisation, while the remainder lived in residential aged care.
One in four, or 24 per cent, of the people who lived at home before the hospitalisation moved to residential aged care within a week of leaving hospital. This increased to one in three (33 per cent) at the three-month period, and 37 per cent at 12 months.
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.
The Institute's 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.
Analysing the data allowed insights to be seen about how people with dementia accessed health services and moved between hospitals and residential aged care.
The study focused on people's first hospitalisation in 2017 and compared transitions to residential aged care or mortality in the seven days, three months, and 12 months after leaving hospital.
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