Consistency in home health nurses can go a long way in reducing hospital readmissions for dementia patients, according to a study by New York University’s Meyers College of Nursing.
Researchers studied data from approximately 24,000 dementia patients who received home healthcare over multiple years from a large nonprofit agency. They measured continuity of care based on the number of nurses and visits during home health care, with a higher score indicating better continuity of care.
A little less than a quarter of the patients were readmitted to the hospital from home healthcare for infections, respiratory problems, heart disease and a variety of other issues.
The researchers found wide variations in continuity of nursing care in home health visits for the dementia patients. Just under 10% had no continuity of care, with a different nurse visiting each time. A little more than a quarter received all visits from one nurse. They also found that the higher the visit intensity, or more hours of care provided each week, the lower the continuity of care.
“This may suggest that it is hard to achieve continuity of care when a patient requires more care, though we cannot exclude the possibility that high continuity of care results in more efficient care delivery and thus fewer hours of care,” Chenjuan Ma, Ph.D., assistant professor at NYU Meyers College of Nursing and lead researcher, said.
Researchers said addressing the shortage of home healthcare workers, improving care coordination and increasing telehealth could improve care to dementia patients in their homes.