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New study will examine the costs of aging-in-place for frail older people

Jul 18, 2018
Guylaine Spencer

Rebecca Ganann

How much does it cost patients and their families to support a frail older person at home? A new study co-led by Dr. Rebecca Ganann seeks to answer this question.  

Ganann, an Assistant Professor in the McMaster School of Nursing, is one of three co-Principal Applicants on a new grant funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR).  She is the Ontario lead and her partners, Dr. R. Martin-Misener and Dr. G. Warner, together with their Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. E. Moody, are the leads for Nova Scotia. Dr. J. Ploeg, Professor in the McMaster School of Nursing is also an investigator on the team.

The research team will conduct a review to map out and summarize existing research and policy documents that explore the needs and expenses of older adults remaining in their homes as they face health and functional changes. The research team will be working with patients and caregivers from both provinces to first identify some typical out-of-pocket costs faced by patients and informal caregivers. Examples may include purchase of equipment (e.g., walker, wheelchair, commode), private personal or health care services (e.g., personal support workers, respite care), or home modification expenses (ramps, safety bars). “They will help us identify inclusion criteria or the words we should be looking for in the literature,” says Ganann. “When we find the information, then they will help us interpret those findings in the context of real life experiences.”

The team also includes government decision-makers in each province, who can use the findings to create health policies and programs to better support frail older people and their caregivers at home.  “Basically this is about optimizing health care spending and ensuring that frail older people receive the support that they need.”

The information could also help individuals and the families supporting them. “People tend to learn as they’re experiencing those roles what the true costs are,” Ganann notes. Knowing the real costs up-front can help them make more informed decisions about where they want their care to take place and how prepared the family is for supporting that.

Grant details:

Martin-Misener, R. (NPA), Ganann, R., Warner, G., (Co-Principal Applicants), Macdonald, M., Goodwin, S., Campbell, A., Swan, R., Moody, E., Weeks, L., McKibbon, S., Ploeg, J., Shaw, L. The Costs of Aging-in-Place for Frail Older People. CIHR Primary and Integrated Health Care Innovations Network – Knowledge Synthesis Grant (2018). (May 2018 – May 2019; CIHR $25,000; Nova Scotia Continuing Care Department of Health and Wellness $25,000; School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University, $2,000).

Aging, Community and Health Research Unit (ACHRU) is also providing in-kind support.

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