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Does informal care impact utilisation of home‐based formal care services among end‐of‐life patients? A decade of evidence from Ontario, Canada

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Understanding how informal care impacts formal care utilisation for home‐based end‐of‐life patients is an important policy‐ and practice‐relevant question. This paper aims to assess the relationship between informal and formal home care among home‐based end‐of‐life patients and how this relationship has changed over the last decade and over the end‐of‐life trajectory. We focus on informal care provided by family members or friends, and three types of home‐based formal care services: care by personal support workers, physician visits, and nurse visits. Using survey data collected in a home‐based end‐of‐life care programme in Ontario, Canada from 2005 to 2016, we build a two‐part utilisation model analysing both the propensity to use each type of formal care and the amount of formal care received by patients. The results suggest that informal care is a substitute for care by personal support workers, but a complement to physician visits and nurse visits. In the case of nurse visits, an increased complementary effect is observed in more recent years. For home‐based physician and nurse visits, the complementary effect grows with patient's proximity to death. These results highlight the complexity of the relationship between informal and formal care among home‐based end‐of‐life patients. Decision‐makers need to take into account the relationship between informal care and different types of formal services when introducing future policies.
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Keywords: complement; home care; informal care; palliative care; substitute

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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