When the Nova Scotia government announced a 10-year continuing care strategy in 2006, Department of Health analysts were tasked with determining how to equitably allocate more than $70 million in new long-term care (LTC) beds across the province.
Building on a departmental population and frailty-based planning model, Susan Weagle, Director of Standards and Policy Development, and her team created a planning methodology that incorporated CIHI and Statistics Canada data.
To better understand the factors predicting the need for LTC in different areas of the province, they used data from the Discharge Abstract Database and analyzed the number of patients older than age 75 admitted to hospital for one of the top 25 Case Mix groups in 2005–2006. This frailty index showed that seniors in different parts of the province had different health status and LTC risk levels.
The team also looked at interRAI Home Care (RAI-HC©) data submitted to the Home Care Reporting System, along with discharges from transitional care, to validate the planning model against current demands.
Incorporating all of this into the methodology allowed Weagle’s team to determine future LTC needs and make recommendations about the number and type of beds, as well as the communities with greatest demand.
The recommendations were accepted by government and more than 800 new beds opened in 2010.
Without the data, however, Weagle said they wouldn’t have been as confident that their recommendations would meet the populations’ needs, because they wouldn’t have had a good grasp of the health status of the population most likely to require continuing care.
“But because we used solid evidence . . . we had something that was rational and defensible, and people could understand how we arrived at our recommendations. This planning approach will ensure people get the care they need, closer to home.”