Background. In the UK the replacement of long-term in-patient care with community-based support has been part of central government health policy for many years. One of the challenges of implementing such a policy is the prediction of support and service needs in the community and the associated costs.
Method. Using research data from north London analyses were undertaken to examine the associations between service use and costs in the community and the characteristics of hospital in-patients.
Results. Although clinical diagnosis was not a useful predictor of either service utilisation or costs, more than a third of the variation in community care costs could be explained by symptoms, behaviour and personal characteristics at least one year earlier.