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Rates of health services use among residents of retirement homes in Ontario: a population-based cohort study


Background — Because there are no standardized reporting systems specific to residents of retirement homes in North America, little is known about the health of this distinct population of older adults. We evaluated rates of health services use by residents of retirement homes relative to those of residents of long-term care homes and other populations of older adults.

Methods — We conducted a retrospective cohort study using population health administrative data from 2018 on adults 65 years or older in Ontario. We matched the postal codes of individuals to those of licensed retirement homes to identify residents of retirement homes. Outcomes included rates of hospital-based care and physician visits.

Results — We identified 54 733 residents of 757 retirement homes (mean age 86.7 years, 69.0% female) and 2 354 385 residents of other settings. Compared to residents of long-term care homes, residents of retirement homes had significantly higher rates per 1000 person months of emergency department visits (10.62 v. 4.48, adjusted relative rate [RR] 2.61, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.55 to 2.67), hospital admissions (5.42 v. 2.08, adjusted RR 2.77, 95% CI 2.71 to 2.82), alternate level of care (ALC) days (6.01 v. 2.96, adjusted RR 1.51, 95% CI 1.48 to 1.54), and specialist physician visits (6.27 v. 3.21, adjusted RR 1.64, 95% CI 1.61 to 1.68), but a significantly lower rate of primary care visits (16.71 v. 108.47, adjusted RR 0.13, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.14).

Interpretation — Residents of retirement homes are a distinct population with higher rates of hospital-based care. Our findings can help to inform policy debates about the need for more coordinated primary and supportive healthcare in privately operated congregate care homes.



Manis DR, Poss JW, Jones A, Rochon PA, Bronskill SE, Campitelli MA, Perez R, Stall NM, Rahim A, Babe G, Tarride J, Abelson J, Costa AP. CMAJ. 2022; 194(21):E730-8. Epub 2022 May 30.

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