Pathways in Aged Care: What Do People Do?
Coordination of aged care services is important to provide appropriate services cost-effectively. For the Pathways in Aged Care (PIAC) cohort study, a consortium centred at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare linked data for the major programs providing services for older Australians: the Aged Care Assessment Program (ACAP), and community and residential aged care services data. The aged care datasets do not share a common unique person identifier, and most do not contain full name data. Nevertheless, all either explicitly contain or have sufficient information to derive a common statistical linkage key, termed SLK-581. Data linkage for the PIAC cohort study was undertaken using multiple deterministic match passes in conjunction with an algorithm for identifying suitable match keys and the order in which they should be used. Using the PIAC linked data, changes in program use over the two years following people's first assessment completed in 2003-04 (reference assessment) was examined. Analysis concentrated on the 77,300 cohort members who had not previously accessed programs requiring an assessment under ACAP. Use of care over time was analysed and legitimate concurrent use of programs was investigated. The Pathways in Aged Care linked data provides valuable new information to support the improvement and coordination of aged care services that cannot be obtained from the analysis of individual datasets.