The purpose of the study was to examine the frequency of burdensome care transitions at the end of life, the difference between different types of residential care facilities, and the changes occurring between 2002 and 2008.
A nationwide, register-based retrospective study.
Residential care facilities offering long-term care, including traditional nursing homes, sheltered housing with 24-hour assistance, and long-term care facilities specialized in care for people with dementia.
All people in Finland who died at the age of 70 or older, had dementia, and were in residential care during their last months of life.
Three types of potentially burdensome care transition: (1) any transition to another care facility in the last 3 days of life; (2) a lack of continuity with respect to a residential care facility before and after hospitalization in the last 90 days of life; (3) multiple hospitalizations (more than 2) in the last 90 days of life. The 3 types were studied separately and as a whole.
One-tenth (9.5%) had burdensome care transitions. Multiple hospitalizations in the last 90 days were the most frequent, followed by any transitions in the last 3 days of life. The frequency varied between residents who lived in different baseline care facilities being higher in sheltered housing and long-term specialist care for people with dementia than in traditional nursing homes. During the study years, the number of transitions fluctuated but showed a slight decrease since 2005.
The ongoing change in long-term care from institutional care to housing services causes major challenges to the continuity of end-of-life care. To guarantee good quality during the last days of life for people with dementia, the underlying reasons behind transitions at the end of life should be investigated more thoroughly.
The time of death is increasingly postponed to a very high age. How this change affects the use of care services at the population level is unknown. This study analyses the care profiles of older people during their last 2?years of life, and investigates how these profiles differ for the study years 1996-1998 and 2011-2013.
Retrospective cross-sectional nationwide data drawn from the Care Register for Health Care, the Care Register for Social Care and the Causes of Death Register. The data included the use of hospital and long-term care services during the last 2?years of life for all those who died in 1998 and in 2013 at the age of =70 years in Finland.
We constructed four care profiles using two criteria: (1) number of days in round-the-clock care (vs at home) in the last 2?years of life and (2) care transitions during the last 6?months of life (ie, end-of-life care transitions).
Between the study periods, the average age at death and the number of diagnoses increased. Most older people (1998: 64.3%, 2013: 59.3%) lived at home until their last months of life (profile 2) after which they moved into hospital or long-term care facilities. This profile became less common and the profiles with a high use of care services became more common (profiles 3 and 4 together in 1998: 25.0%, in 2013: 30.9%). People with dementia, women and the oldest old were over-represented in the latter profiles. In both study periods, fewer than one in ten stayed at home for the whole last 6?months (profile 1).
Postponement of death to a very old age may translate into more severe disability in the last months or years of life. Care systems must be prepared for longer periods of long-term care services needed at the end of life.