Background: Older adults (≥65 years) have seen significant increases in opioid overdose deaths. Diversion of older adults’ opioid medication is also a contributor to opioid misuse. Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, saves lives when used for an opioid overdose, yet education on opioid overdose and naloxone access and training for older adults is limited.
Methods: A prospective, interventional training program was created to educate home health workers and their older adult clients on opioid overdose and naloxone utility. The SAFE – Home Opioid Management Education (SAFE-HOME) naloxone awareness program was created to include in-person training with educational handouts around opioid risks and on the importance of naloxone. Home health workers, who provide in-home care and care coordination to older adults in rural Illinois, were trained to educate their clients with the SAFE-HOME program. Older adults were included if they were prescribed an opioid for any indication. Outcomes included change in knowledge of opioids and naloxone, home health worker perception of client knowledge level and naloxone obtainment rates following the educational intervention.
Results: Thirty-five clients completed the SAFE-HOME program. The average knowledge assessment score increased from a baseline of 39.4% (SD 26.8) to 90.6% (SD 12.6, p<0.01). Most home health workers agreed their older adult clients had poor baseline knowledge of naloxone. No clients obtained naloxone due to lack of perceived need and cost barriers.
Conclusion: An educational approach utilizing home health workers as client educators resulted in increased knowledge of opioid risks and naloxone utility amongst older adults.