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Schubert CC, Perkins AJ, Myers LJ, Damush TM, Penney LS, Zhang Y, Schwartzkopf AL, Preddie AK, Riley S, Menen T, Bravata DM. Effectiveness of the VA-Geriatric Resources for Assessment and Care of Elders (VA-GRACE) program: An observational cohort study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2022 Dec 1; 70(12):3598-3609.
BACKGROUND: As the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system seeks to expand access to comprehensive geriatric assessments, evidence-based models of care are needed to support community-dwelling older persons. We evaluated the VA Geriatric Resources for Assessment and Care of Elders (VA-GRACE) program''s effect on mortality and readmissions, as well as patient, caregiver, and staff satisfaction. METHODS: This retrospective cohort included patients admitted to the Richard L. Roudebush VA hospital (2010-2019) who received VA-GRACE services post-discharge and usual care controls who were potentially eligible for VA-GRACE but did not receive services. The VA-GRACE program provided home-based comprehensive, multi-disciplinary geriatrics assessment, and ongoing care. Primary outcomes included 90-day and 1-year all-cause readmissions and mortality, and patient, caregiver, and staff satisfaction. We used propensity score modeling with overlapping weighting to adjust for differences in characteristics between groups. RESULTS: VA-GRACE patients (N = 683) were older than controls (N = 4313) (mean age 78.3 ±?8.2 standard deviation vs. 72.2 ±?6.9?years; p < 0.001) and had greater comorbidity (median Charlson Comorbidity Index 3 vs. 0; p < 0.001). VA-GRACE patients had higher 90-day readmissions (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.55 [95%CI 1.01-2.38]) and higher 1-year readmissions (aOR 1.74 [95%CI 1.22-2.48]). However, VA-GRACE patients had lower 90-day mortality (aOR 0.31 [95%CI 0.11-0.92]), but no statistically significant difference in 1-year mortality was observed (aOR 0.88 [95%CI 0.55-1.41]). Patients and caregivers reported that VA-GRACE home visits reduced travel burden and the program linked Veterans and caregivers to needed resources. Primary care providers reported that the VA-GRACE team helped to reduce their workload, improved medication management for their patients, and provided a view into patients'' daily living situation. CONCLUSIONS: The VA-GRACE program provides comprehensive geriatric assessments and care to high-risk, community-dwelling older persons with high rates of satisfaction from patients, caregivers, and providers. Widespread deployment of programs like VA-GRACE will be required to support Veterans aging in place.