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SÃ¸rbye , Liv W
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CitationAging Clin Exp Res 2004, 16(4):259-69
AbstractBACKGROUND AND AIMS: Community care for older people is increasing dramatically in most European countries as the preferred option to hospital and long-term care. While there has been a rapid expansion in Evidence-Based Medicine, apart from studies of specific interventions such as home visiting and hospital at home (specialist visits or hospital services provided to people in their own homes in the community), there is little evidence of characteristics of the recipients of community care services or the organisation of services that produce the best outcomes for them and their informal carers. The AdHOC Study was designed to compare outcomes of different models of community care using a structured comparison of services and a comprehensive standardised assessment instrument across 11 European countries. This paper describes the study and baseline data. METHODS: 4,500 people 65 years and older already receiving home care services within the urban areas selected in each country were randomly sampled. They were assessed with the MDS-HC (Minimum Data Set-Home Care) instrument, containing over 300 items, including socio-demographic, physical and cognitive characteristics of patients as well as medical diagnoses and medications received. These data were linked to information on the setting, services structures and services utilization, including use of hospital and long-term care. After baseline assessment, patients were re-evaluated at 6 months with an abbreviated version of the instrument, and then at the end of one year. Data collection was performed by specially-trained personnel. In this paper, socio-demographics, physical and cognitive function and provision of hours of formal care are compared between countries at baseline. RESULTS: The final study sample comprised 3,785 patients; mean age was 82+/-7.2 years, 74.2% were females. Marital and living status reflected close family relationships in southern Europe relative to Nordic countries, where 5 times as many patients live alone. Recipients of community care in France and Italy are characterised by very high physical and cognitive impairment compared with those in northern Europe, who have comparatively little impairment in Activities of Daily Living and cognitive function. The provision of formal care to people with similar dependency varies extremely widely with very little formal care in Italy and more than double the average across all levels of dependency in the UK. CONCLUSIONS: The AdHOC study, by virtue of the use of a common comprehensive standardised assessment instrument, is a unique tool in examining older recipients of community care services in European countries and their widely varied organisation. The extreme differences seen in dependency and hours of care illustrate the probable contribution the study will make to developing an evidence based on the structure, quantity and targeting of community care, which will have major policy implications.
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