Magazine article Aging Today

Study Finds Homecare Falls Short

Magazine article Aging Today

Study Finds Homecare Falls Short

Article excerpt

Current homecare policies fall dramatically short of family needs, according to a first-of-its-kind study by researchers at the United Hospital Fund of New York. "This study demonstrates the gap between the needs of caregivers of patients with chronic conditions and the services that are provided under a system based on short-term, acute care rehabilitation," said Carol Levine, lead researcher of the study and director of the fund's Families and Health Care Project.

The study focused on 99 New York City family caregivers taking care of stroke or brain injury patients following their discharge from a hospital or short-term nursing home stay. The caregivers were examined starting from their initial experiences with formal homecare services, continuing through the termination of services, as well as about nine months thereafter. Levine and her colleagues determined that unpaid family caregivers-almost three-quarters of whom were women, with a mean age of 57-provide substantial amounts of care but receive inadequate support from healthcare providers.

LITTLE INFORMATION

Typically, the research team found, family caregivers reported not understanding how the level of homecare services was determined, who was paying for what, which agencies supplied different kinds of workers, and what they should expect from each.

Nearly 40% of caregivers told Levine and her coauthors that they learned about the termination of formal homecare services only when a therapist, nurse or homecare aide informed them. "The physical therapist gave notice on Thursday that Friday was going to be the last visit," was a frequent comment. …

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