Woman helping elderly family member as an informal carer

Research shows the importance of household health information

New research from the Health Foundation has shown the importance of household information when planning and providing care, particularly for the healthcare use of individuals with multiple conditions.

Around 35% of people in the UK has two or more long-term health conditions and their care needs account for more than half of the country’s healthcare costs.

Responsibility for managing the everyday care needs of these long-term conditions often predominantly rests on the individuals themselves or informal carers, with around half of all informal carers in the UK providing care for someone in the same household.

As such, there’s a significant opportunity for health services to better plan and provide care if they are aware of household factors and health information.

Understandably, someone with multiple long-term conditions tends to use more health services than someone with fewer conditions. However, the Health Foundation data showed that this was also dependent on the health of other people living in their households.

In households where there are two or more people with multiple health conditions, it was found that they individually had higher annual primary care costs, made more GP visits and were more likely to use community care services.

The research also showed the scale of this situation across the UK.

Focusing in on over 50s living in two-person households, half of all people who had two or more long-term conditions were living with another person who also had two or more long-term conditions.

In areas of higher socioeconomic deprivation around the country, this figure was found to be even higher.

In response to their findings, the Health Foundation recommended health services looked at the potential for making better use of household information when planning and providing care.

For example, providers might be able to schedule care that is delivered in people’s homes more efficiently if they have access to information about the health and health care needs of the whole household, they suggested.

The research acknowledged that this was already occurring in many places across our health sector on a case-by-case basis, but the researchers wanted to see the practice become increasingly widespread.

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