Community services form a critical component of the healthcare system. These services support individuals to manage their health problems in or close to their homes, in theory reducing the need for contact with hospital services. Community healthcare services take many forms including district and specialist nursing, occupational and physiotherapy, podiatry, palliative care and prevention. Services may be provided to address urgent needs, manage long-term conditions, or to rehabilitate.
To date, data on the levels and types of these services have been limited and have not supported inter-area comparisons. The advent of the Community Services Dataset creates a fresh opportunity. Concerns about data quality persist, but sufficient progress has been made to warrant its examination and use. Subject to data quality checks, we will use the data to provide a detailed description of community healthcare services, comparing activity rates across ICBs. Furthermore, we aim to assess whether changes or differences in levels and types of community healthcare provision are associated with changes in rates of emergency admissions of older people.
Our output will take the form of a detailed report, summarising the nature and distribution of community healthcare and its relationship with emergency hospital use.