Older people living at home believe they get more effective healthcare services when they have a sense of security and continuity of care through a key or specific professional, according to a new study led by researchers from the University of Hertfordshire. The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) Programme.
One of the main challenges facing the NHS is how best to address the care and treatment needs of older people. England’s population is both growing and ageing as people live longer. Latest figures show that by mid-2011 England’s population was at its highest level, at an estimated 53.1 million, of which 8.7 million people were aged 65 or over and 1.2 million were 85 or over. Older people are at high risk for developing chronic illnesses and related disabilities, and those living at home with these complex health problems and disabilities are at high risk of unplanned hospital admission. They often rely on good inter-professional working - a combination of support from doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and social workers, as well as care workers employed by private businesses.
Professor Claire Goodman, University of Hertfordshire, said: “Healthcare professionals try hard to work together as an integrated team to provide a good standard of care. But, with different approaches to inter-professional working, we are beginning to understand more about the impact on the health and well-being from the patient’s perspective and which approach achieves the best outcomes.
“Older people taking part in our study said that services are most effective for them when there is continuity of care through a specific professional. This gives a sense of security and trust, and brings in other services and treatment at points of crisis. More importantly, with a key professional to speak to about their healthcare, the older person and their family can be more involved in reviews and decisions.”
The three year study is published by the National Institute for Health Research. It was led by Claire Goodman at the University of Hertfordshire in collaboration with St. George’s University of London, Kingston University, University College London, King’s College London and University of Surrey.
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