Original Study| Volume 21, ISSUE 9, P1273-1281.e2, September 2020

Community-Dwelling Older Women: The Association Between Living Alone and Use of a Home Nursing Service

  • Angela Joe
    Address correspondence to Angela Joe, PhD, Bolton Clarke Research Institute, Bolton Clarke, Suite 1.01, 973 Nepean Highway, Bentleigh, VIC 3204, Australia.
    Bolton Clarke Research Institute, Bolton Clarke, Bentleigh, Victoria, Australia
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  • Marissa Dickins
    Bolton Clarke Research Institute, Bolton Clarke, Bentleigh, Victoria, Australia

    Southern Synergy, Department of Psychiatry at Monash Health, Southern Clinical School, Monash University, Dandenong, Victoria, Australia
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  • Joanne Enticott
    Southern Synergy, Department of Psychiatry at Monash Health, Southern Clinical School, Monash University, Dandenong, Victoria, Australia

    Department of General Practice, School of Primary and Allied Health Care, Monash University, Notting Hill, Victoria, Australia
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  • Rajna Ogrin
    Bolton Clarke Research Institute, Bolton Clarke, Bentleigh, Victoria, Australia

    Department of International Business and Asian Studies, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

    Biosignals for Affordable Healthcare, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

    Austin Health Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
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  • Judy Lowthian
    Bolton Clarke Research Institute, Bolton Clarke, Bentleigh, Victoria, Australia

    School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

    Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

    Institute of Future Environments, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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Published:December 27, 2019DOI:



      To investigate the use of home nursing by community-dwelling older women to determine the nature of services required by those living alone.


      A retrospective cohort study using routinely collected data.

      Setting and Participants

      Women aged 55 years and older living in metropolitan Melbourne who received an episode of nursing care from a large community home-based nursing service provider between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2015.


      Descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were used to examine the relationship between client- and service-related factors and use of community nursing services. The primary outcome of interest was the hours of service received in a care episode.


      A total of 134,396 episodes of care were analyzed, in which 51,606 (38.4%) episodes involved a woman who lived alone. The median hours of care per episode to women who lived alone was almost 70% more than that for women who lived with others. Multivariable regression identified factors influencing the amount of service use: living alone status, cognitive health status, and number of required home nursing activities. After adjusting for confounding and interactions, living alone was associated with at least 13% more hours of care than is provided to those not living alone. Compared with women who lived with others, women living alone required almost double the amount of assistance with medication management and were 30% more likely to experience a deterioration in their condition or be discharged from home nursing care into an acute hospital. From 2006 to 2015, for all women there was a trend toward fewer hours of nursing service provided per episode.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Community-dwelling older women who live alone have greater service needs and higher rates of discharge to hospital. This knowledge will help guide provision of services and strategies to prevent clinical deterioration for this population.


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