Identifying who lives in a care home—a challenge to be conquered

Jennifer Kirsty Burton and Bruce Guthrie

Age and Ageing

Care home residents in the UK outnumber hospital inpatients threefold
and yet our knowledge about their needs, care and outcomes is
staggeringly poor, not least because there is no central register of
care home residents. Identifying who lives in a care home is therefore
difficult. Large care data collection systems which have been adopted by
care home providers in North American and Europe for service evaluation
and research, such as the Inter-RAI (resident assessment instrument) and Minimum Dataset (MDS) are not routinely used in the UK. These data can be extracted and linked to hospital data to evaluate outcomes.

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Key points

  • Care home residents are difficult to identify in routinely collected NHS data.
  • Computational address matching can improve identification and is superior to postcode matching.
  • Effort should be made to improve precision in coding care home admissions accurately.
  • Routine data research has tremendous potential, but accurate identification of the care home population must be a priority.

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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