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Improving the long-term care referral process: insights from patients and caregivers.

Guihan M, Hedrick S, Miller S, Reder S. Improving the long-term care referral process: insights from patients and caregivers. Gerontology & Geriatrics Education. 2011 Oct 4; 32(2):135-51.

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Large increases in the need for long-term care (LTC) services are expected as baby boomers age. Little has been published about patient and caregiver preferences for information about LTC. However, our qualitative research findings suggest that potential consumers may find it difficult to obtain accurate and timely information about LTC programs and services. In-person, semistructured interviews were conducted with 47 subjects, including patients (n = 25) within 90 days of their referral to a LTC placement (including NH, assisted living, home care, and community) and their caregivers (n = 22). Interview questions addressed the events that seemed to trigger their need for a LTC referral, the resources they used to become more informed about LTC options and the issues they confronted with the LTC referral process. Qualitative analyses identified a number of patient and informal caregiver-reported barriers to making decisions about LTC services, including insufficient information about LTC programs and community resources, unclear funding requirements and inadequate funding, and difficulty knowing how to plan for LTC or make LTC decisions. A potential solution may be an online LTC Guide designed to provide accurate information about the range of LTC services, with an emphasis on home and community-based services. This Guide was developed to address the gap in comprehensive LTC information identified in the findings of this study.

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