Cations M, Lang C, Ward SA, Caughey GE, Crotty M, Whitehead C, Ahern S, Maddison J & Inacio MC (2021) Using data linkage for national surveillance of clinical quality indicators for dementia care among Australian aged care users, Scientific Reports: 11, Article number 10674 doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-89646-x
Care quality has important implications for people with dementia. We examined trends and geographical variation of four clinical quality indicators (CQIs) in Australia. This retrospective cohort study included all people with dementia using Australian government-subsidised aged care in 2008–2016 (n = 373,695). Quality indicator data were derived from linked national aged care, health, and pharmaceutical datasets. Negative binomial regression modelling assessed trends in CQI performance over time (2011–2016) and funnel plots examined geographical variation in performance. The incidence rate of antipsychotic medicine dispensing decreased slightly from 1.17/1000 person-days to 1.07/1000 person-days (adjusted incidence rate ratio (aIRR) = 0.98, 95%CI 0.98–0.99). Cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine dispensing did not change (aIRR = 1.02, 95%CI 1.00–1.04), while exposure to high sedative load increased slightly from 1.39/1000 person-days to 1.44/1000 person-days (aIRR = 1.01, 95%CI 1.00–1.01). Dementia and delirium-related hospitalisations increased slightly from 0.17/1000 person-days to 0.18/1000 person-days (aIRR = 1.02, 95%CI 1.01–1.03). There was marked variation in cholinesterase inhibitor and memantine dispensing by geographical area (0–41%). There has been little change in four indicators of dementia care quality in Australian aged care users over time. Cholinesterase inhibitor and memantine dispensing varied substantially by geographical region. Existing strategies to improve national performance on these indicators appear to be insufficient, despite the significant impact of these indicators on outcomes for people with dementia.