Background Appropriate social care delivered at the right time can potentially maintain health and delay or avoid the need for health care interventions such as emergency hospitalisation. We describe a study, currently underway in Wales, which examines whether there is an association between the implementation from 2008 of policy aimed at reducing emergency hospital admissions among people with long term conditions and a change in provision of local authority-supported social care for people aged 65 and over.
Methods This observational study of routine data employs mixed methods for data collection and analysis. We are using interrupted time series analyses (January 2006 to December 2012) to study overall trends in the use of social care and unplanned use of secondary care across Wales, and to examine the relationship between the two. We are examining how this relationship varies between local authority areas; over time; and by the type of care received, and the cost of care delivered. Within one case study area, we are using the SAIL database to link anonymously health and social care data, to examine service use at an individual level in the 65+ age group. We are using interviews with local authority data managers to explore the feasibility of extending this data linkage model to the whole of Wales.
Results Analysis is currently underway on all-Wales data. Linkage of social services data with health data within the case study area is complete (91% match rate), and analysis will begin shortly. We have completed the majority of interviews.
Conclusions There is potential to use routine data to examine the use of social care and the interaction with use of health care.
- emergency department
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