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Aims: To identify predictors of long-term care placement and to examine the effect of day-care service use on long-term care placement over a 36-month follow-up period among community-dwelling dependent elderly.
Methods: This study was a prospective cohort analysis of 1739 community-dwelling elderly and 1442 caregivers registered in the Nagoya Longitudinal Study for Frail Elderly. Data included the clients' demographic characteristics, basic activities of daily living, comorbidities, and use of home care services, including the day-care, visiting nurse, and home-help services, as well as caregivers' demographic characteristics and care burden. Analysis of long-term care placement over 36 month was conducted using Kaplan–Meier curves and multivariate Cox proportional hazards models.
Results: Among the 1739 participants, 217 were institutionalized at long-term care facilities during the 36-month follow-up. Multivariate Cox regression models, adjusted for potential confounders, showed that day-care service use was significantly associated with an elevated risk for long-term care placement within the 36-month follow-up period. Participants using a day-care service two or more times/week had significantly higher relative hazard ratios than participants not using such a service.
Conclusion: The results highlight the need for effective measures to reduce the long-term care placement of day-care service users. Policy makers and practitioners must consider implementing multidimensional support programs to reduce the caregivers' willingness to consider long-term care placement. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2012; 12: 322–329.
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Japan introduced a universal-coverage long-term care insurance (LTCI) program in April 2000.1,2 This program brought a radical change from traditional, family-based care toward elderly care involving socialization and the integration of medical care and welfare services. There are two types of services covered by LTCI: community-based services and institutional services. Community-based services include various programs such as the home-help service, visiting bathing service, visiting rehabilitation, day care (rehabilitation), visiting nurse service, assistive device leasing, short stays (temporary stays at nursing facilities), in-home medical care, and care management services, care services provided by for-profit private homes, and allowance for the purchase of assistive devices and home renovation. In theory, the applicant can choose any certified providers and listed services.
In practice, a major role is played by a “care manager,” a licensed professional who has passed an examination and undergone brief training, who draws up a care plan and a weekly schedule of service provision for individual seniors. It is essential that the care plan must be approved by the client or the client's family, and new care managers can be requested at any time if care plans prove inadequate. The maximum amount of reimbursement in the LTCI system is capped according to the care level.3,4 Elderly beneficiaries pay a 10% co-payment for services received.
The aims of LTCI home care programs are to reduce the care burden of caregivers, maintain and improve the functional abilities and well-being of elderly people, and decrease the use of institutional care services and mortality. However, there is little evidence of how community-based services affect care recipients' outcomes, the subjective burden of caregivers or reduce the use of institutional care services.
The Nagoya Longitudinal Study for Frail Elderly (NLS-FE) compares outcomes of the use of different care services provided by the LTCI program; it was designed to provide a structured comparison of services and a comprehensive standardized assessment instrument.5,6 Day-care service, which includes “day care” and “day rehabilitation,” is provided in designated centers and is one of the major LTCI community-based services. Day-care service is a facility-based daytime program of nursing care, rehabilitation therapies, supervision and socialization that enables frail, older people, who are in poor overall health and have multiple comorbidities and varying physical or mental impairments, to remain active in the community. The individual visits the facility once or several times a week and then returns to his or her own home.
Although one of the aims of day-care service is to minimize or delay the possibility of institutionalization and maximize the potential for care recipients to maintain an independent life in the community, only a limited number of studies have examined the impact of day-care service on long-term care (LTC) placement among community-dwelling older adults. Moreover, most of these studies have targeted patients with dementia. Previous studies targeting dementia have demonstrated that day-care use is associated with nursing home placement in persons with Alzheimer's disease.7,8 However, the effect of using day-care service on the LTC placement of community-dwelling, frail elderly with various chronic diseases remains unknown, although it has been reported that day-care services reduce caregiving time and provide respite to caregivers.9,10
In the present prospective cohort study using the NLS-FE cohort, we examined whether day-care service use among community-dwelling older people using various community-based services under LTCI in Japan influenced LTC placement during a 36-month follow-up period. Analysis of LTC placement over the 36-month was conducted using Kaplan–Meier curves and multivariate Cox proportional hazards models.
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When the baseline characteristics were compared between day-care service users and nonusers, older age, a higher Charlson comorbidity index, and a lower GDS-15 score were observed in day-care service users than in nonusers (Table 1). Higher prevalence rates of cerebrovascular disease and dementia were also observed in day-care service users. The rates of nursing service use, home-help service use and living alone among day-care service users were lower than those of nonusers. Among caregivers' variables, the rate of male caregivers was significantly lower for day-care service users than nonusers. Higher ZBI score was detected in users' caregivers.
Table 1. Baseline characteristics of the 1739 care recipients and the 1442 caregivers
| ||Day-care service||P-value|
|Care recipients (n = 1739)|| || || |
| Men/women (% of men/total)||256/518 (33.1)||319/646 (33.1)||0.994|
| Age, years (mean, SD)†||81.4 (7.7)||80.2 (7.5)||0.002|
| Basic ADL, range: 0–20 ( mean, SD)†||13.0 (5.9)||13.5 (6.7)||0.099|
| Charlson comorbidity index, range: 0–35 ( mean, SD)†||2.2 (1.5)||1.8 (1.6)||<0.001|
| GDS-15 (range: 0–15), mean (SD)†‡||6.1 (3.6)||6.8 (3.7)||0.002|
| Chronic diseases (% of total)|| || || |
| Ischemic heart disease||12.4||12.0||0.809|
| Congestive heart failure||8.7||8.4||0.845|
| Cerebrovascular disease||42.8||27.6||<0.001|
| Diabetes mellitus||12.4||11.7||0.659|
| Visiting nurse service use (% of total)||38.1||54.0||<0.001|
| Home-help service use (% of total)||42.4||50.5||0.001|
| Regular medical checkups (% of total)||55.3||60.7||0.023|
| Living alone (% of total)||17.3||28.1||<0.001|
| Hospitalization during 36-month follow-up (% of total)||42.5||41.0||0.537|
| Long-term care placement during 36-month follow-up (% of total)||18.5||7.7||<0.001|
|Caregiver variables (n = 1442)|| || || |
| Men/women (% of men/total)||137/553 (19.9)||217/535 (28.9)||<0.001|
| Age (years), mean (SD)†||63.4 (12.3)||64.3 (12.4)||0.177|
| Relationship to care recipient (% of total)|| || || |
| Spouse||35.4||42.8|| |
| Daughter-in-law||25.7||15.4|| |
| Others||3.2||4.7|| |
| ZBI score, range: 0–88 (mean, SD)†§||30.1 (16.8)||26.8 (17.0)||0.001|
Among the 1739 participants, 217 participants were institutionalized at LTC facilities during the 36-month follow-up period. A higher rate of LTC placement was observed in day-care service users than in nonusers (n = 143, 18.5% vs. n = 74, 7.7%, P < 0.001) (Table 1). Among the 1327 participants who could complete the GDS-15, 150 participants were institutionalized at LTC facilities during the 36-month follow-up period. Of the 412 who could not perform the GDS-15, 67 were institutionalized at LTC facilities during the 36-month follow-up period. A higher LTC placement rate was observed in the participants who could not complete GDS-15 test than in those who could (16.3% vs. 11.3%, P = 0.008). There were no significant differences in LTC placement rate between participants living alone and those living with others (12.8% vs. 12.4%, P = 0.802). Furthermore, there was no significant difference in the LTC placement rate between participants living with caregivers who completed the ZBI and those who did not (13.0% vs. 11.1%, P = 0.375).
Cox hazard regression and Kaplan–Meier models
Table 2 shows the results of the unadjusted univariate Cox hazard regression analysis, which suggested that LTC placement within the 36-month follow-up period was associated with older age, a lower function of basic ADL, day-care service use, and the presence of dementia (Table 2). Among caregivers' variables, only higher care burden was associated with LTC placement. Figure 1A shows Kaplan–Meier curves exploring the association between weekly frequency of day-care service use and time to LTC placement (3-month intervals). The risk of LTC placement was higher for participants who used day-care service more frequently than those who used it less frequently.
Table 2. Univariate Cox proportional hazards model to identify predictors of long-term care placement over 36 months
|Care recipients (n = 1739)|| || || |
| Men (vs. women)||0.75||0.56–1.02||0.067|
| Age (continuous)||1.04||1.03–1.06||<0.001|
| Living with someone (vs. living alone)||1.02||0.74–1.39||0.920|
| Basic ADL (range: 0–20) (continuous)||0.97||0.95–0.99||0.001|
| Regular medical checkups per month (no regular checkup)||1.19||0.90–1.56||0.214|
| Formal care use (vs. nonuse)|| || || |
| Visiting nurse||1.15||0.88–1.51||0.295|
| Day-care service||2.42||1.83–3.21||<0.001|
| Home helper||0.71||0.81–1.37||0.714|
| Charlson comorbidity index (continuous)||1.04||0.95–1.13||0.375|
| GDS-15 (continuous)†||1.01||0.96–1.05||0.762|
| Presence of chronic diseases (vs. absence)|| || || |
| Ischemic heart disease||1.02||0.68–1.53||0.926|
| Congestive heart failure||1.16||0.73–1.84||0.523|
| Cerebrovascular disease||1.00||0.76–1.32||0.986|
| Diabetes mellitus||0.78||0.50–1.22||0.272|
| Hospitalization during 36-month follow-up (vs. never admitted)||1.08||0.82–1.42||0.576|
|Caregiver variables (n = 1442)|| || || |
| Men (vs. women)||0.95||0.67–1.33||0.752|
| Age (continuous)||1.01||1.00–1.02||0.059|
| Character of caregiver (vs. child)|| || || |
| ZBI score(continuous)‡||1.03||1.02–1.04||<0.001|
Figure 1. (A) Kaplan–Meier estimates of long-term care (LTC) placement over 36 months according to the frequency of day-care service use (times per week). The log-rank test: P < 0.001. (B) Risk of LTC placement based on the frequency of day-care service use (times per week), adjusting for potential confounders (recipient's gender, age, ADL status, presence or absence of dementia, caregiver's gender, age, and Zarit Burden Interview score). The y-axis is the adjusted hazard ratios (HR) on a log scale. Black squares are point estimates from a Cox proportional hazards model adjusting for potential confounders. The error bars represent 95%CI. A simple black square without confidence intervals represented the referent group, nonusers.
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Table 3 shows the results of the series of Cox proportional hazards models that examine the HR of day-care service use to LTC placement during the 36-month follow-up period. The sequential adjustment had minor influences on the association between day-care service use and LTC placement during the 36-month follow-up period. The HR for the fully adjusted models was 2.34 (95%CI = 1.60–3.41).
Table 3. Hazard ratios for long-term care placement associated with day-care service use (multivariate models)
|Models||Hazard ratio||95% CI||P-value|
|Model 1 (n = 1739)||2.32||1.75–3.08||<0.001|
|Model 2 (n = 1739)||1.96||1.47–2.62||<0.001|
|Model 3 (n = 1150)||2.34||1.60–3.41||<0.001|
In the Cox regression model adjusted for potential confounders, participants with more frequent use of day-care service had a significantly higher relative HR than participants with less frequent use of the service (Fig. 1B). Although there was no significant association between using day-care service once per week and the risk of LTC placement, participants using a day-care service two or more times per week had a significantly higher relative HR than participants not using the service.
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- Disclosure statement
In the present study we demonstrated that day-care service use was associated with LTC placement during the 36-month study period among community-dwelling frail elderly using various community-based services under the LTCI program in Japan. Many previous studies have examined predictors of LTC placement in study samples, but these have been limited to people with dementia and there have been fewer evaluations of risk factors for LTC placement in community samples.15–19 Few studies have comprehensively investigated how both caregiver and recipient characteristics influence LTC placement.19 Previous observations demonstrated that common risk factors of LTC placement of community-dwelling elderly were older age, presence of dementia, and caregiver's burden.16,18,19
Although one of the aims of day-care service is to minimize or delay the possibility of institutionalization and maximize the potential for care recipients to maintain an independent life in the community, only a limited number of studies have examined the impact of day-care service on LTC placement among community-dwelling older adults – and most of these have targeted demented patients. Previous studies targeting dementia have demonstrated that day-care use is associated with nursing home placement in persons with Alzheimer's disease.7,8 We expanded the target group and demonstrated a striking association between day-care service use and the risk of LTC placement for community-dwelling dependent elderly patients with various chronic diseases, even after adjusting for the presence of dementia and caregiver's burden. We clearly showed, after adjusting for potential confounders, that the frequency of day-care service use had a negative impact on LTC admission with the 36-month follow-up period. The use of day-care service two or more times per week negatively affected LTC placement, but there was no significant association between institutionalization and the use of day-care service once a week. It is possible that participants with more comorbidities and a more depressive mood use day-care service more frequently; thus, participants using a day-care service two or more times per week were more likely to be placed in LTC facilities. However, even if comorbidity index score and GDS-15 score were included in the analysis, the association between LTC placement and the use of day-care service two or more times per week persisted (data not shown). This contrasts with our recent report that the risk of 21-month mortality among community-dwelling elderly was reduced significantly with frequent use of day-care service.6 The complex decision to place older people in LTC is based on care recipient and caregiver characteristics and the sociocultural context of the recipient and caregiver. We do not know the exact reason for this negative effect of day-care service on LTC placement. There are conflicting findings in regard to the effect of day-care service on caregivers' stress, depression, subjective or objective burden, and physical and emotional well-being,20 although a recent relatively large study demonstrated that day-care service had a beneficial effect on restricting caregiving time and providing respite to caregivers.9,10 It is possible that day-care service alone cannot satisfy the complex needs of caregivers and care recipients sufficiently to enable continued home care, and it is unlikely to change the caregiver's preference for institutional placement.21 Although we still do not know whether the characteristics of caregivers and recipients, or day-care service use itself, increase the risk of LTC placement, the relief and improved mental and physical well-being of caregivers following day-care service use may enhance the willingness of caregivers to consider LTC placement. Caregivers who use day-care service or other respite services may become more aware of their level of stress and more willing to consider LTC placement as an acceptable option, especially if the service experience is positive or if the caregiver receives encouragement to institutionalize from professionals or other caregivers.22
This study has important limitations. First, the study was not a randomized intervention trial. Japan has introduced the LTCI program, which provides various services, including day-care services, according to clients' preferences. Therefore, we could not randomize the use of this service. Because of the observational design of the present study, differences in unmeasured factors including the severity of patients' chronic diseases, caregivers' health conditions, and quality of services may account in part for the findings. Those who use formal services may have greater need for caregiving than those who do not use formal services. The unmeasured needs that contribute to day-care service use may be stronger than the positive effects of service. Other aspects of the present study should also be considered. In the analysis, baseline data of service use was included, but changes in service use during the follow-up period were not considered. Our results may not be representative of the Japanese frail elderly in the community as a whole because the subjects in this study represented an urban population. In addition, these findings may not be generalizable to other populations given that local health practices, a variety of social and economic factors, ethnic attitudes about caring for very old people, and cost/access to day-care centers may have influenced these results.
In the present study, we showed that day-care service does not achieve the LTCI program aim of reducing the use of institutional care services of elderly people to enable them to maintain their lives at home. It may be possible that the respite for caregivers provided by day-care service is not enough to continue caregiving at home. As is true for any observational study, we cannot firmly establish a cause-and-effect relationship between day-care service use and LTC placement. In addition, the present study could not evaluate the exact reasons for the unfavorable effect of this service on LTC placement. Further studies are needed to determine why caregiving families decide to use day-care services, reasons for LTC placement, and whether day-care services meet the needs of families and care recipients throughout the caregiving career. In addition, future research should assess the quality of day-care programs and examine whether the quality of day-care services affects the LTC placement of clients. Health-care providers and care managers should recognize that day-care service use may augment LTC placement in dependent older people. Policy makers and practitioners should consider implementing a multidimensional support program to reduce caregivers' willingness to consider LTC placement.