Reducing ambulance conveyance for older people: evidence of the role of social care from a regional, year-long service evaluation using retrospective routine data

Chloe Lofthouse-Jones, Phil King, Helen Pocock, Mary Ramsay, Patryk Jadzinski, Ed England, Sarah Taylor, Julian Cavalier, Carole Fogg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Older people, especially those with dementia, have a high risk of deterioration following admission to hospital. More than 60% of older people attended by South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) clinicians are conveyed to hospital, although many conveyances may not have been life-threatening. We aimed to understand patterns of conveyance and alternative referral pathways used following ambulance attendance to an older person.

Methods: Service evaluation, using routinely collected, anonymised electronic records. Participants: electronic records of people aged ≥75 years for whom an ambulance was dispatched between April 2016 and March 2017 within the geographical boundaries of SCAS NHS Foundation Trust, who were alive on arrival of the ambulance. Conveyance rates are described according to patient and emergency-call characteristics. Logistic regression was used to produce adjusted odds ratios for conveyance. Alternative referral pathways used are described.

Results: Of 110,781 patients attended, 64% were conveyed to hospital. Factors associated with reduced odds of conveyance included out-of-hours calls (adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR) 0.82 [0.79-0.85]), living alone with a care package or with family plus care package (aOR 0.66 [0.62-0.69]; aOR 0.58 [0.54-0.62] respectively), and a record of dementia (0.91 [0.87-0.96]). Living in a nursing home was associated with an increased risk of conveyance (aOR 1.25 [1.15-1.36]). Patients with dementia with more income were significantly less likely to be conveyed than those with greater income deprivation. Alternative referral services were used in 22% of non-conveyed patients, most commonly GP, out-of-hours and falls services.

Discussion: People aged ≥75 have high rates of conveyance, which are influenced by factors such as out-of-hours calls, dementia and receipt of social care. Low use of alternative referral services may reflect limited availability or difficulty in access. A better understanding of how these factors influence ambulance clinician decision-making is integral to improvement of outcomes for older people.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Paramedic Journal
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 12 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • emergency medical services
  • dementia
  • social care

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