Six-month outcomes following an emergency hospital admission for older adults with co-morbid mental health problems indicate complexity of care needs

Lucy E Bradshaw, Sarah E Goldberg, Sarah A Lewis, Kathy Whittamore, John R F Gladman, Rob G Jones, Rowan H Harwood
Age and Ageing 2013, 42 (5): 582-8

BACKGROUND: two-thirds of older patients admitted as an emergency to a general hospital have co-existing mental health problems including delirium, dementia and depression. This study describes the outcomes of older adults with co-morbid mental health problems after an acute hospital admission.

METHODS: a follow-up study of 250 patients aged over 70 admitted to 1 of 12 wards (geriatric, medical or orthopaedic) of an English acute general hospital with a co-morbid mental health problem and followed up at 180 days.

RESULTS: twenty-seven per cent did not return to their original place of residence after the hospital admission. After 180 days 31% had died, 42% had been readmitted and 24% of community residents had moved to a care home. Only 31% survived without being readmitted or moving to a care home. However, 16% spent >170 of the 180 days at home. Significant predictors for poor outcomes were co-morbidity, nutrition, cognitive function, reduction in activities of daily living ability prior to admission, behavioural and psychiatric problems and depression. Only 42% of survivors recovered to their pre-acute illness level of function. Clinically significant behavioural and psychiatric symptoms were present at follow-up in 71% of survivors with baseline cognitive impairment, and new symptoms developed frequently in this group.

CONCLUSIONS: the variable, but often adverse, outcomes in this group implies a wide range of health and social care needs. Community and acute services to meet these needs should be anticipated and provided for.

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