Aim: We investigated whether the presence and characteristics of a family caregiver affect the use of formal long-term care under the new Korean long-term care system.
Background: In July 2008, Korea introduced public long-term care insurance, a form of social insurance, in order to cope with the reality of the growing elderly population and the increasing demand for long-term care.
Methods: The family caregivers of 271 applicants for long-term care insurance who had a caregiver and 36 applicants without a caregiver living in one city participated in this cross-sectional study. Data were collected from November 2010 to June 2011 using self-report questionnaires. Variables included the applicant's gender; age; physical and cognitive function; type of long-term care used; presence and type of family caregivers; caregiver's gender, age, education level, marital status, and employment status; and service use covered by long-term care insurance. Logistic multiple regression was used.
Results: The effect of the presence and characteristics of a family caregiver on the use of a long-term care facility was significant. A nursing home was used for care more frequently when the applicant had no family caregiver. An elderly subject who had a spouse as a caregiver used home healthcare services more often than nursing home services.
Conclusion: The decision to use formal services may depend not only on the care level required by the applicant, but also on the presence and type of caregivers. To successfully implement the new long-term care insurance system, consideration of the caregiver situation should be included in policy development.