Aim To compare community matrons with other nurses carrying out case management for impact on service use and costs.
Background In England, nurses working in general practice, as district nurses and disease-specific nurses, undertake use case management. Community matrons were introduced to case management to reduce unplanned hospitalizations of people with complex conditions.
Methods Managers in three Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) identified four nurses/matrons engaged in case management. Nurses/matrons recruited five community-dwelling patients referred to them for case management. Patients reported use of health/social services for 9 months, 2008 to 2009. Nurses/matrons completed activity diaries.
Results Service use data were available for 33 patients. Compared with other nurse case managers, community matrons had: smaller caseloads; more patient contact time (mean 364 vs. 80 minutes per patient per month); and older patients (mean age 81 vs. 75 years, P = 0.03) taking more medications (mean 8.9 vs. 5.6, P = 0.014). Monthly costs were significantly higher for patients managed by community matrons (add £861), and who lived alone (add £696). Hospitalizations were not associated with patient or service delivery factors.
Conclusion Further research on cost-effectiveness of case management models is required.
Implications for Nursing Management The case for continued investment in community matrons remains to be proven.