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Open Access Research article

Meeting the home-care needs of disabled older persons living in the community: does integrated services delivery make a difference?

Nicole Dubuc12*, Marie-France Dubois12, Michel Raîche2, N'Deye Rokhaya Gueye23 and Réjean Hébert12

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, 3001 12th Avenue North, Sherbrooke, Quebec, J1H 5N4, Canada

2 Research Centre on Aging, University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke, 1036 Belvedere South, Sherbrooke, Quebec, J1H 4C4, Canada

3 Faculty of Arts & Faculty of Sciences, Université de Saint-Boniface, 200, Avenue de la Cathédrale, Winnipeg, MB, R2H 0H7, Canada

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BMC Geriatrics 2011, 11:67  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-11-67

Published: 26 October 2011

Abstract

Background

The PRISMA Model is an innovative coordination-type integrated-service-delivery (ISD) network designed to manage and better match resources to the complex and evolving needs of elders. The goal of this study was to examine the impact of this ISD network on unmet needs among disabled older persons living in the community.

Methods

Using data from the PRISMA study, we compared unmet needs of elders living in the community in areas with or without an ISD network. Disabilities and unmet needs were assessed with the Functional Autonomy Measurement System (SMAF). We used growth-curve analysis to examine changes in unmet needs over time and the variables associated with initial status and change. Sociodemographic characteristics, level of disability, self-perceived health status, cognitive functioning, level of empowerment, and the hours of care received were investigated as covariates. Lastly, we report the prevalence of needs and unmet needs for 29 activities in both areas at the end of the study.

Results

On average, participants were 83 years old; 62% were women. They had a moderate level of disability and mild cognitive problems. On average, they received 2.07 hours/day (SD = 1.08) of disability-related care, mostly provided by family. The findings from growth-curve analysis suggest that elders living in the area where ISD was implemented and those with higher levels of disability experience better fulfillment of their needs over time. Besides the area, being a woman, living alone, having a higher level of disability, more cognitive impairments, and a lower level of empowerment were linked to initial unmet needs (r2 = 0.25; p < 0.001). At the end of the study, 35% (95% CI: 31% to 40%) of elders with needs living in the ISD area had at least one unmet need, compared to 67% (95% CI: 62% to 71%) in the other area. In general, unmet needs were highest for bathing, grooming, urinary incontinence, walking outside, seeing, hearing, preparing meals, and taking medications.

Conclusions

In spite of more than 30 years of home-care services in the province of Quebec, disabled older adults living in the community still have unmet needs. ISD networks such as the PRISMA Model, however, appear to offer an effective response to the long-term-care needs of the elderly.