(HealthDay News) – States with greater investment in community-based service networks that supply home-delivered meals to seniors have fewer low-care nursing home residents, according to research published online Dec. 3 in Health Services Research.

Kali S. Thomas, PhD, and Vincent Mor, PhD, of Brown University in Providence, RI, used secondary data sources to examine the relationship between state spending on Older Americans Act (OAA) services and the percentage of low-care residents in nursing home facilities.

The researchers found that, over time, state expenditure on OAA Title III registered services increased, as did the percentage of Medicaid dollars going toward home and community-based services. These correlated with a decrease in the proportion of low-care nursing home residents, from 17.9% in 2000 to 12.6% in 2009. Based on multivariate analysis, there was a correlation between increased spending on home-delivered meals and fewer residents in nursing homes with low-care needs. For each $25 spent on home-delivered meals per year per senior in the state there was a 1% decrease in the low-care nursing home population.

“Despite efforts to rebalance long-term care, there are still many nursing home residents who have the functional capacity to live in a less restrictive environment,” the authors write. “States that have invested in their community-based service networks, particularly home-delivered meals, have proportionally fewer of these people than do those states that have not.”

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