Mixed care networks of community-dwelling older adults with physical health impairments in the Netherlands

Marjolein Broese van Groenou, Marianne Jacobs, Ilse Zwart-Olde, Dorly J H Deeg
Health & Social Care in the Community 2016, 24 (1): 95-104
As part of long-term care reforms, home-care organisations in the Netherlands are required to strengthen the linkage between formal and informal caregivers of home-dwelling older adults. Information on the variety in mixed care networks may help home-care organisations to develop network type-dependent strategies to connect with informal caregivers. This study first explores how structural (size, composition) and functional features (contact and task overlap between formal and informal caregivers) contribute to different types of mixed care networks. Second, it examines to what degree these network types are associated with the care recipients' characteristics. Through home-care organisations in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, we selected 74 frail home-dwelling clients who were receiving care in 2011-2012 from both informal and formal caregivers. The care networks of these older adults were identified by listing all persons providing help with five different types of tasks. This resulted in care networks comprising an average of 9.7 caregivers, of whom 67% were formal caregivers. On average, there was contact between caregivers within 34% of the formal-informal dyads, and both caregivers carried out at least one similar type of task in 29% of these dyads. A principal component analysis of size, composition, contact and task overlap showed two distinct network dimensions from which four network types were constructed: a small mixed care network, a small formal network, a large mixed network and a large formal network. Bivariate analyses showed that the care recipients' activities of daily living level, memory problems, social network, perceived control of care and level of mastery differed significantly between these four types. The results imply that different network types require different actions from formal home-care organisations, such as mobilising the social network in small formal networks, decreasing task differentiation in large formal networks and assigning co-ordination tasks to specific dyads in large mixed care networks.

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