There is a clear link between the length of time spent in hospitals by older patients and the supply of home and residential care in their areas.
According to a new research study published by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), improving home care and residential care resources can help to reduce the duration of hospital stays for some patients, freeing up beds in hospitals.
The study, titled An analysis of the effects on Irish hospital care of the supply of care inside and outside the hospital, was completed as part of a project that aims to inform policies, such as Sláintecare when it comes to moving care from acute hospitals to community facilities.
The research examined whether patients aged over 65 in areas with better home care and residential care supply are discharged more quickly from hospital. It found that older patients in areas with more home care and nursing homes tended to have shorter hospitals stays.
The research showed:
The authors of the report wrote that increasing home care and residential care supply is essential to meet the demands of a growing and ageing population and could also reduce some pressures on hospitals.
However, increased hospital capacity will still be required in light of long elective waiting lists, and the highest inpatient bed occupancy rate in the OECD.
One of the report authors, Brendan Walsh, said: “Increasing the supply of home care and nursing home beds can help reduce pressure on hospitals, but it is not a panacea.
Increasing supply of these services as the population grows and ages is imperative. But so too is the continued investment in hospital capacity.”