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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1995 Oct;43(10):1155-60.

The CARE Program: a nurse-managed collaborative outpatient program to improve function of frail older people. Collaborative Assessment and Rehabilitation for Elders.

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CARE Program, Ralston-Penn Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104-2676, USA.



Frail older adults are especially vulnerable in a health system that is fragmented and fails to focus on preservation or restoration of function. The School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, together with the School of Medicine and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, established the Collaborative Assessment and Rehabilitation for Elders (CARE) Program to meet the needs of this population. We used the British Day Hospital as a model because it provides a comprehensive approach to care and a bridge between acute, home-based, and institutional long-term care. We have designed our program to provide innovative, interdisciplinary care as well as to be reimbursable under current and future payment structures. This nurse-managed, collaborative practice seeks to maximize independent functioning, promote health, and enhance quality of life for chronically ill, frail older adults living in the community whose needs are left unmet by existing services. The program was certified as a Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (CORF) in December 1993 to maximize reimbursement of services through Medicare and other third party payers. With a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner as care manager, clients receive an intensive, individualized, time-limited program of nursing, rehabilitation, mental health, social, and medical services in one setting several days each week. Additional geriatric services, such as primary care, are available in the same location when needed.


The program is housed in renovated space devoted to the care of older people. The academic and clinical offices of the University of Pennsylvania's nursing and medical gerontologic and geriatric faculty are in the same building.


We have targeted those persons older than age 65 who have complex health problems and are living at home. Individuals must need multiple services, including at least one rehabilitation therapy, and they must be unsuitable-for inpatient rehabilitation. DESCRIPTION OF THE POPULATION: In its first 8 months of operation, the program received 97 referrals and admitted 53 clients. Clients were, on average, 78 years of age. Over three-fourths (77%) were women and 58% were black. The average stay in the program was 6 weeks. FIM scores, which improved a mean of 2.4 points, were found to lack sensitivity to the functional improvements achieved by clients.


Under existing Medicare and third party reimbursement policies, it is feasible to establish a nurse-managed comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation program designed to meet the needs of frail older persons. Preliminary data support the beneficial effects of the program as well as the economic feasibility of this approach.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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