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Describing differences among recent immigrants and long-standing residents waiting for long-term care: a population-based retrospective cohort study

Qureshi D, Schumacher C, Talarico R, Lapenskie J, Tanuseputro P, Scott M, Hsu A. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2021; 22(3):648-55. Epub 2020 Sep 20. DOI:

Objectives — Immigrants often face many unique cultural and logistical challenges in their health care that differ from nonimmigrants. We sought to describe and compare characteristics and the time to placement between recent immigrants and long-standing residents waiting for long-term care (LTC).

Design — Population-based retrospective cohort study using linked health administrative data.

Setting/Participants — We examined all Ontario residents aged 65 years or older who were placed on the LTC waitlist between January 2007 and December 2010. We defined recent immigrants as those granted permanent residency or citizenship status in Canada after 1985; all others were defined as long-standing residents.

Methods — The primary outcome was the number of days on the waitlist before LTC entry, indexed on the incident waitlist record, with a maximum follow-up until December 2012. A generalized estimating equation model was used to identify factors associated with the number of days spent waiting for LTC entry.

Results — We identified 56,031 individuals on the LTC waitlist, among whom 3.0% were recent immigrants. Compared with long-standing residents, recent immigrants were younger (age ≥80: 66.6% vs. 72.7%), from lower income neighborhoods (bottom 2 brackets: 50.0% vs. 44.0%), and had fewer comorbidities (≥5: 41.6% vs. 36.5%). A larger proportion of caregivers of recent immigrants reported being unable to continue providing care (21.6% vs. 16.7%) and expressed greater feelings of distress (26.9% vs. 20.7%). The median wait time to LTC placement was 165 days for immigrants versus 126 days for long-standing residents. Applying to a cultural/ethnic-specific home [Arithmetic Mean Ratio (AMR) = 1.32, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.11–1.56] and being an immigrant (AMR = 1.22, 95% CI 1.15–1.30) was associated with significantly longer wait times to placement, adjusting for covariates.

Conclusions/Implications — Recent immigrants vary considerably from long-standing residents, and tend to wait longer to be placed into LTC homes. Future research is necessary to understand how we can reduce wait times to LTC entry for the aging population, with a particular focus on immigrants who are often highly disadvantaged.