Impact of long-term home care on mortality, functional status, and unmet needs.
Hughes, S L
This article reports the outcomes of a four-year follow-up evaluation of the Five Hospital Program, a long-term home care program in Chicago. Outcomes assessed include the mortality, comprehensive functional status, and perceived unmet needs of its frail elderly clientele (mean age 81 years at entry). The evaluation utilized a pretest, multiple posttest design with a comparison group consisting of similarly elderly and impaired individuals receiving OAA Title III-C home-delivered meals. Consecutively accepted treatment (N = 157) and comparison group clients (N = 156) were interviewed using the OARS Multidimensional Functional Assessment Questionnaire at baseline, 9 months, and 48 months after acceptance to care. A multivariate analysis of mortality rates revealed no between-group differences attributable to treatment on this outcome. Major findings included significantly better cognitive functioning and reduced unmet needs in the treatment group at nine months. A longer-range, continued beneficial effect of treatment on cognitive status was also observed at 48 months. We conclude that long-term home care provided important benefits to clients at both 9 and 48 months, with no effect on mortality. However, we suggest that the four-year findings be interpreted with caution, since only a small percentage of clients (18 percent) were still alive and receiving active care in the community at that time.