Case-managed care for community-dwelling frail elders

Evidence Rating  
Evidence rating: Scientifically Supported

Strategies with this rating are most likely to make a difference. These strategies have been tested in many robust studies with consistently positive results.

Health Factors  
Date last updated

In a case management model, health professionals, often nurses, manage multiple aspects of patients’ long-term care (LTC), including status assessment, monitoring, advocacy, care planning, and linkage to services, as well as transmission of information to and between care providers. Case managers often care for frail elderly patients who live independently. Frail elderly patients often have complex health needs that require care from multiple providers, and are at increased risk of adverse outcomes from conditions that could be prevented with early detection and treatment1.

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Reduced nursing home use

  • Reduced hospital utilization

  • Improved day-to-day functioning

Potential Benefits

Our evidence rating is not based on these outcomes, but these benefits may also be possible:

  • Improved health outcomes

  • Increased patient satisfaction

  • Increased caregiver satisfaction

  • Improved mental health

  • Improved cognitive function

  • Improved quality of life

What does the research say about effectiveness?

There is strong evidence that case-managed care reduces use of nursing homes2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and hospital utilization7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and improves functioning among community-dwelling frail elders more than usual care7, 11, 13, 14, 15.

Case-managed care can extend the time before frail elders move to nursing homes3 and reduce length of stay16. Such care can also reduce hospital admissions7, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, readmissions9, and length of stay for frail elders using case-managed care7, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20.

Case management can improve patients’ health outcomes4, 13 and reduce mortality21. Such care may reduce falls, preserve mobility and the ability to maintain a household22 and complete activities of daily living (ADL)18, and improve quality of life18, 23. Case management may also increase patient satisfaction4, 13, 23, 24, caregiver satisfaction1, 2, 25 26, and caregivers’ confidence3, 26. In some circumstances, case management can improve quality of care and reduce the use of emergency services11 and emergency room visits8.

Case management can also improve cognition, reduce depression27 and dementia symptoms in patients with Alzheimer disease25, and reduce behavioral disturbances for patients with dementia2.

Some case management interventions appear to reduce total costs of care; however, outcomes vary by program, case manager, and duration of program2, 13,28. Municipalities3, Medicare29, and informal caregivers may benefit from cost reductions26

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated no impact on disparities likely.
Implementation Examples

The federal Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) offers home care with nurse management for Medicare and Medicaid enrollees eligible for nursing home care but able to safely remain at home. Examples of care covered by PACE includes adult day primary care, dentistry, emergency services, home care, physical therapy, and meals30. As of 2016, there are over 100 independent PACE organizations across the U.S.31.

Implementation Resources

CMS-PACE - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Program of all-inclusive care for the elderly (PACE).


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1 Eklund 2009 - Eklund K, Wilhelmson K. Outcomes of coordinated and integrated interventions targeting frail elderly people: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Health & Social Care in the Community. 2009;17(5):447–58.

2 Cochrane-Reilly 2015 - Reilly S, Miranda-Castillo C, Malouf R, et al. Case management approaches to home support for people with dementia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2015;(1):CD008345.

3 Berthelsen 2015 - Berthelsen CB, Kristensson J. The content, dissemination and effects of case management interventions for informal caregivers of older adults: A systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2015;52(5):988-1002.

4 Samus 2014 - Samus QM, Johnston D, Black BS, et al. A multidimensional home-based care coordination intervention for elders with memory disorders: the Maximizing Independence at Home (MIND) Pilot Randomized Trial. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2014;22(4):398-414.

5 Eloniemi-Sulkava 2009 - Eloniemi-Sulkava U, Saarenheimo M, Laakkonen M-L, et al. Family care as collaboration: Effectiveness of a multicomponent support program for elderly couples with dementia. Randomized controlled intervention study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2009;57(12):2200–8.

6 Allen 2000 - Allen S. Description and outcomes of a Medicare case management program by nurses. Home Health Care Services Quarterly. 2000;18(2):43-68.

7 Bernabei 1998 - Bernabei R, Landi F, Gambassi G, et al. Randomised trial of impact of model of integrated care and case management for older people living in the community. BMJ. 1998;316(7141):1348-1351.

8 Armold 2017 - Armold S. Utilization of the health care system of community case management patients. Professional Case Management. 2017;22(4):155-162.

9 Bronstein 2015 - Bronstein LR, Gould P, Berkowitz SA, James GD, Marks K. Impact of a social work care coordination intervention on hospital readmission: A randomized controlled trial. Social Work. 2015;60(3):248-255.

10 Meret-Hanke 2011 - Meret-Hanke LA. Effects of the program of all-inclusive care for the elderly on hospital use. The Gerontologist. 2011;51(6):774–85.

11 Marek 2010 - Marek KD, Adams SJ, Stetzer F, Popejoy L, Rantz M. The relationship of community-based nurse care coordination to costs in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Research in Nursing & Health. 2010;33(3):235–42.

12 Schifalacqua 2000 - Schifalacqua M, Hook M, O’Hearn P, Schmidt M. Coordinating the care of the chronically ill in a world of managed care. Nursing Administration Quarterly. 2000;24(3):12-20.

13 Trivedi 2012 - Trivedi D, Goodman C, Gage H, et al. The effectiveness of inter-professional working for older people living in the community: A systematic review. Health and Social Care in the Community. 2013;21(2):113-28.

14 Tappen 2001 - Tappen RM, Hall RF, Folden SL. Impact of comprehensive nurse-managed transitional care. Clinical Nursing Research. 2001;10(3):295-313.

15 Marshall 1999 - Marshall BS, Long MJ, Voss J, Demma K, Skerl KP. Case management of the elderly in a health maintenance organization: The implications for program administration under managed care. Journal of Healthcare Management. 1999;44(6):477-493.

16 You 2013 - You EC, Dunt DR, Doyle C. Case managed community aged care: What is the evidence for effects on service use and costs? Journal of Aging and Health. 2013;25(7):1204-1242.

17 Duke 2005 - Duke C. The frail elderly community– based case management project. Geriatric Nursing. 2005;26(2):122-127.

18 Hammer 2001 - Hammer BJ. Community-based case management for positive outcomes. Geriatric Nursing. 2001;22(5):271-275.

19 Landi 2001 - Landi F, Onder G, Russo A, et al. A new model of integrated home care for the elderly: Impact on hospital use. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 2001;54(9):968-970.

20 Landi 1999 - Landi F, Gambassi G, Pola R, et al. Impact of integrated home care services on hospital use. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 1999;47(12):1430-1434.

21 Coburn 2012 - Coburn KD, Marcantonio S, Lazansky R, Keller M, Davis N. Effect of a community-based nursing intervention on mortality in chronically ill older adults: A randomized controlled trial. PLoS Medicine. 2012;9(7):e1001265.

22 Scharlach 2015 - Scharlach AE, Graham CL, Berridge C. An integrated model of co-ordinated community-based care. The Gerontologist. 2015;55(4):677-687.

23 Lim 2003 - Lim WK, Lambert SF, Gray LC. Effectiveness of case management and post-acute services in older people after hospital discharge. The Medical Journal of Australia. 2003;178(6):262-266.

24 Hallberg 2004 - Hallberg IR, Kristensson J. Preventive home care of frail older people: A review of recent case management studies. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 2004;13(6B):112–20.

25 Callahan 2006 - Callahan CM, Unverzagt FW, Austrom MG, et al. Effectiveness of collaborative care for older adults with Alzheimer disease in primary care: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2006;295(18):2148–57.

26 Sandberg 2015 - Sandberg M, Jakobsson U, Midlöv P, Kristensson J. Cost-utility analysis of case management for frail older people: Effects of a randomised controlled trial. Health Economics Review. 2015;5(1):12.

27 Marek 2005 - Marek KD, Popejoy L, Petroski G, et al. Clinical outcomes of aging in place. Nursing Research. 2005;54(3):202–11.

28 Joo 2014a - Joo JY, Huber DL. An integrative review of nurse-led community-based case management effectiveness. International Nursing Review. 2014;61(1):14-24.

29 De Jonge 2014 - De Jonge KE, Jamshed N, Gilden D, et al. Effects of home-based primary care on Medicare costs in high-risk elders. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2014;62(10):1825-1831.

30 CMS-PACE - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Program of all-inclusive care for the elderly (PACE).

31 CWF-Hostetter 2016 - Hostetter M, Klein S, McCarthy D. Aging Gracefully: The PACE Approach to Caring for Frail Elders in the Community. New York: The Commonwealth Fund (CWF); 2016.