Below is a summary of the research project being led by the Usher Institute, surrounding care home admissions.


What do we know?

Moving into a care home is a significant, but often necessary life event. Health policy documents advise that care home admission from the acute hospital setting should be avoided. In practice 47% of admissions to care homes in Scotland come from hospital, although we don’t know how many are from acute hospitals rather than from rehabilitation facilities.

Scotland has a unique resource in the form of the annual Care Home Census, which has valuable information about the long-stay care home residents of Scotland. Every time an individual in Scotland receives a prescription or is admitted to hospital, data are collected which can be linked together using their Community Health Index (CHI) Number.


What we’d like to do

We have permission to use data from the Scottish Care Home Census and link these to records of hospital admissions, prescribing records and social care records for individuals admitted to care homes over a three-year period. We won’t look at which care homes people are admitted-to and no individual patients will be identifiable.

Firstly, we will be able to use the data to see how accurately being a care home resident is recorded, e.g. in hospital records. Then, we will also be able to compare hospital vs. community admissions across the regions of Scotland. Then we will look at the role of dementia as a predictor of care home admission from hospital and finally look at how well-recorded dementia is in these routinely collected records.


How we plan to do it

To do this analysts within the statistics division of the NHS (NHS National Services Scotland) will link together care home census records with hospital admission records, prescribing records and social care data. They will remove all potentially identifiable information (names, addresses etc.) and store the data in the National Data Safe Haven in Edinburgh. From here the researchers will be able to analyse existing collected data and look at patterns and predictors across Scotland.

This research allows for the inclusion of a much more representative sample of care home residents than would be possible by recruiting them individually, including those who lack capacity. Furthermore, it uses data which is already in existence and poses no burden on individual residents.


What we hope to achieve

  • To describe the pattern of care home admissions from hospital across Scotland
  • To identify predictors of care home admission from hospital vs. community settings
  • To establish the reliability of the care home census in identifying care home residents and dementia
  • To assess how possible it is to undertake research using routinely collected data in the Scottish care home population



Funding for this project has been provided by the Health Analytical Services Division of the Scottish Government, via the Scottish Informatics and Linkage Collaboration. The project is being undertaken as part of a Clinical Research Fellowship funded by the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre and the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology of the University of Edinburgh.


For more information about the project, please contact: Dr Jenni Burton, Clinical Research Fellow Geriatric Medicine, University of Edinburgh. Email: