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The University of Birmingham has conducted a study on practical ways to improve outcomes and deliver high-value, person-centred care from the perspective of older people. With estimates of over 2 million unplanned hospital admissions per year of people aged over 65, questions are often asked such as: ‘Do they really need to be there?’; ‘Is there nowhere more suitable for them to go?’; ‘What might prevent them coming into hospital?’

Conditions where older people don’t feel like a ‘burden’ need to be created. The study did not find large numbers of older people being inappropriately admitted to hospital; rather evidence was found of older people doing their best to stay out of hospital.

Some key findings from the study include:

  • Only nine older people (nine per cent) felt they could have been cared for elsewhere. Their GPs or hospital doctors disagreed and felt their admissions (and those of other people on whom they commented) were entirely appropriate.
  • Contrary to some media speculation, some older people appeared to have delayed getting in touch with emergency services, being very aware of the need to use scarce NHS resources wisely.
  • In the run up to admission, GPs and other primary care professionals were often in touch with the older people and at the point of admission, ambulance staff played a key role.
  • Health staff felt that hospital admission was more likely to be avoided if older people had early access to specialist staff who understood the complexity of the health and social problems which older people may experience.

Click here for the full findings, themes, commentary and and the Kingsfund report into emergency bed use.

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