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Topic Report: Demographic and health profile of older adults utilising public health nursing services in Ireland: Findings from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)

A new report by The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing on older people's use of public health nursing services in Ireland was launched today by Dr. Catriona Murphy of TILDA at the annual general meeting of the Institute of Community Health Nursing. The report examines the demographic and health profile of those utilising Public Health Nursing services and their satisfaction with the service. The study was commissioned by the Institute of Community Health Nursing (ICHN).

Key findings include:

  • 6.6% of adults aged 50 years and older utilised public health nursing (PHN) services in 2009, the equivalent to 79,173 in the population Utilisation was highest in those aged 85 years and older where over a third (33.7%) utilised PHN services.
  • Almost a quarter (24.3%) of those who self-rate their health as poor utilised PHN services.
  • Over a third (38.5%) of those with both an activity of daily living (ADL) difficulty and instrumental activity of daily living (IADL) difficulty utilised PHN services.
  • Satisfaction with the PHN service was high (90%), with dissatisfaction mostly related to insufficient service provision.

Commenting on the study, author, Dr Catriona Murphy said "These findings have implications for policymakers and practitioners in the context of an ageing population. The high utilisation of PHN services by those aged 85 years and older is a key finding given the absolute increase in the numbers of older adults in this age category in the last Census of Ireland and the expected increase in this age category in the future. The PHN service appears to be responding to the needs of those with an activity of daily living difficulty and instrumental activity of daily living difficulty - and satisfaction with this service is high".

Principal Investigator of TILDA, Professor Rose Anne Kenny commented "The picture painted here of the changes in service utilisation across a two year period is one of a dynamic PHN service which responds to changing levels of need in the older population. The high mortality rate in PHN service users points to a service with an important role in end of life care for individuals and their families in the community".

The full report is available here.