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Soc Sci Med. 1985;20(12):1313-8.

Community care for the elderly: costs and dependency.


The aim of the paper is to examine the costs of care of elderly persons who live in their own homes as compared to those in residential homes. This is seen as a necessary first step in any planning process. From a survey of elderly persons in Britain, the levels of domiciliary services provided to those in their own homes was ascertained, and unit costs of each service was applied. Costs were based on the economic concept of social opportunity costs, so that all costs were included, and not just those accruing to the local authority. Recognising the fact that the costs of care in the community were likely to vary with the level of health of the elderly person, an attempt was made to categorise elderly persons into various levels of dependency. Secondly, regression techniques were used to ascertain whether the level of dependency did significantly affect the costs of care. It was found that variations in the average costs of care were significantly explained by both physical and mental characteristics of the elderly person. In addition, sex was important, as well as the elderly person's area of residence. This has important implications by itself for planning care services. It was also found that very few persons who were sampled in the community had a total cost of care greater than the average cost found in residential homes.

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