Baptcare Study Offers Insights into Community Care Programs
11 August 2008 at 3:26 pm
A ground breaking longitudinal study commissioned by Baptcare has found that home-based community care packages for older Australians have improved their quality of life and maintained their independence.
However, Baptcare says the study has also provided insight into some of the most critical issues affecting the delivery of aged care today including depression and social isolation, and is the first of its kind in Australia.
The ‘Predictors Influencing The Change in Health Status of Elderly in Community Care’ (PITCH) study was conducted by Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine and examined the changing health status and wellbeing of clients receiving Commonwealth funded community care packages through Baptcare over a 12 month period.
The project followed 300 Baptcare clients across Victoria, and captured the client/consumer’s view of their own health as a recipient of a community care package in the areas of physical and mental health, social and community service interaction and the level of carer strain experienced by informal carers.
The study recorded the triggers that see clients move to higher levels of community care or into residential care. Key results included:
– 44% of clients experienced a major change in health status, defined as death, movement to residential care, cognitive decline or loss of an independent activity of daily living.
– Over 50% of care package recipients reported experiencing mild or severe depression.
– 61% of care recipients had a carer, and two thirds of these carers reported record high levels of carer strain.
– People from a lower socio economic status were more likely to experience a significant change in health status and also require a change to a higher needs package of care.
– Those receiving community care packages had high levels of co-morbid conditions; cardiovascular disease being the most common.
Associate Professor Christopher Reid from the School of Public Health and preventative Medicine, Monash University says that for the first time, there is a sense of the extent of the health related issues in this group and the rate of change over a 12 month period.
Prof Reid says this can help to plan for addressing these health related needs in a more effective manner.
Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Davey says the organisation is both excited and encouraged by the results of this study.
Davey says he anticipates that PITCH will be used by service providers, consumers and funding agencies across the country to inform the delivery of community aged care packages and to develop strategies to improve the health related quality of life of those receiving community packages and their carers.
He says PITCH was undertaken as a first step towards identifying the strategies that have the best match to client needs -Baptcare needed to understand its client group in order to see where to look for good practices, stabilising practices and practices that deserve attention and effort to optimise the ageing experience for clients.
He says they undertook PITCH because they could not locate any data against which to compare their practices. PITCH is a reference point for Baptcare clients and now also for the packaged care sector nationally.
Carers Victoria, Beyond Blue and Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) are among the industry specialists who have expressed excitement in the study and its results.
Greg Mundy, Chief Executive of ACSA says this study is the first real benchmark regarding the health status of clients receiving community care packages, and demonstrates the effectiveness of quality community care in supporting older people and maintaining their health and independence.
Mundy says t is beneficial to have this reinforced by such rigorous research, which has the potential to help shape the future of aged care delivery across Australia.
This report once again confirms the high levels of strain on family carers, who we know experience poorer health and wellbeing than most other members of our community,” said Maria Bohan, Chief Executive of Carers Victoria. “This study will hopefully encourage government and service providers to focus on strategies to improve the quality of life of older people and their carers,” she said.
A copy of the study is available for download on the below link.
The PITCH study can be downloaded at: http://www.baptcare.org.au/lwp/wcm/resources/file/eb90e50525b87f2/PITCH%20FINAL%20REPORT.pdf