ACAT assessments can be used as a tool to help prevent older people from being hospitalised, a researcher says.

Professor Maria Inacio

Professor Maria Inacio from the University South Australia says her study, which is published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society , found the aged care assessment process can pick up people who are at risk of unplanned hospitalisations and emergency department presentations.

This provides an opportunity for interventions to be put in place to prevent this happening, she says.

Professor Inacio and colleagues from UniSA and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute looked at the outcomes 22,130 people who underwent an ACAT assessment between 2013 and 2016.

They found one in five people experienced an unplanned hospitalisation or emergency department presentation within 90 days of being assessed.

The research identified 25 predictors of risk for hospitalisation, including frailty, medication and use of after-hours services. Being a man was also associated with increased risk.

Almost 200,000 older Australians have an ACAT assessment each year.

Targeted interventions

Professor Inacio says the findings suggest that ACTAT provides a window to implement programs targeted at reducing hospitalisations.

“We can identify moderately well those most at risk of being hospitalised, meaning we can determine the older people who need the most follow up after their assessment,” Prof Inacio said.

“If we provide targeted treatment or therapies during this time, we can not only provide better support to older people transitioning to care, but we could reduce overcrowding and ramping in our hospitals as well.”

Medication management

 Medication management is on area that could be targeted through Medicare-subsidised home medicine reviews, Professor Inacio says.

“This is a program for older people living in the community, yet it is not used as often as it should be,” she said.

She also says frailty picked up during ACAT Assessments can be addressed by investing in services that can help reduce frailty, such as exercise and management with geratric specialists and allied health professionals.

The study is part of a state-wide project looking at avoidable hospitalisations and unplanned admissions in aged care.

In 2018, older Australians accounted for 42 per cent of hospitalisations and half of all days spent in hospital.

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