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An initiative to provide emergency healthcare for older people in the community: the impact on carers


The increase in the size and age of the UK older population has had a major effect on emergency services. Many older people will visit the emergency department but not necessarily require significant clinical intervention. The Paramedic Practitioner in Older People's Support (PPOPS) scheme was set up to provide community-based clinical assessment of older patients contacting the emergency services with minor acute conditions as an alternative approach to emergency department transfer. Patient carers were followed-up to evaluate the impact of this scheme when compared with standard transfer to the emergency department. Postal questionnaires, including items on the level of care provided, satisfaction with care received and carer impact, were administered to 561 carers. The overall response rate was 71.5% (401/561). The carers were predominantly female, approximately 60 years of age and family members, with more than three-quarters providing some form of physical care before the patient episode. Overall, carers did report an increase in the level of care provided before episode, significantly more so in the emergency department group (p=0.003). These increases related to more input needed in supporting physical activities. The carers in the PPOPS group were more likely to report greater satisfaction with their impression of care and staff attitude and would prefer treatment at home for the patient than those in the emergency department group (p<0.001). A minor health event does impact on the life of a carer. However, community-based schemes, such as PPOPS, do not increase the burden on carers and have high levels of satisfaction among this important group of the community.

  • Carer
  • emergency care
  • older people
  • burden
  • carer satisfaction

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