Background Our previous work has shown that 35% of ambulance attendances by SCAS are to people aged 75 and over; 17% of these have dementia. The research literature suggests that older people with cognitive impairment/dementia experience longer stays, or die, in hospital. It is unclear whether factors such as call time or availability of social care impact conveyance rates. The aim of this study was to explore the impact of out-of-hours call-outs and social care provision on ambulance conveyance rates for people aged ≥75 years, including patients with dementia.
Methods For this service evaluation, electronic records for patients aged ≥75 years attended by SCAS were extracted over one year. The proportion of conveyed patients according to a dementia record, out-of-hours call, time of year, triage grade, social care provision and indices of deprivation were calculated. Univariate and multivariate analyses identified factors which may influence conveyance.
Results A total of 111,548 electronic records were included, 16.5% with dementia. 63.7% of calls resulted in conveyance (59.1% with dementia). Conveyances reduced in out-of-hours periods for all patients. 13.6% more patients living alone and 16.5% more patients living with family were conveyed to hospital if there was no care package in place. Adjusted for other factors, having a care package reduced the risk of conveyance in older people living alone by 36% (Odds ratio 0.64, 95% Confidence interval 0.62–0.67).
Conclusions Availability of social care and time of call appear to be important determinants of conveyance in older people, both in those with and without dementia. More research is needed to improve needs assessments and local referral services and pathways.
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