Home visiting to older people reduces death rates and the need for long-term institutional care

September 27, 2001

Effectiveness of home based support for older people: systematic review and meta-analysis BMJ Volume 323 pp 719-724

Commentary: When, where, and why do preventive home visits work? pp 724-5

Editorial: Preventive home visits to elderly people p 708

Home visits to older people appear to reduce their risk of death and admission to long term institutional care, reports a study in this week's BMJ.

Given the shortcomings and inconsistencies of previous studies the research team at the University of Nottingham's Faculty of Medicine decided to review and compare the results of 15 previous studies of home visiting to establish whether these programmes are beneficial to the health of older people.

The results of the research show that by visiting older people in their homes and offering health promotion and preventive care, death rates and admission to long-term institutional care are significantly reduced. However, the research also concluded that there were no significant reductions in admissions to hospital.

The results of this very large study is all the more important given that previous smaller research projects have concluded that home visits to older people should be discontinued because they were not effective.

Although the research did not aim to assess the quality of different home visiting projects, it is clear that some programmes were more successful than others. The authors suggest that what is required is a greater focus on the process of delivering care and on attempting to identify which components of home visiting work.


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