Poor staff in nursing homes affects
the elderly; © panthermedia.net/
The nation's largest for-profit nursing homes deliver significantly lower quality of care because they typically have fewer staff nurses than non-profit and government-owned nursing homes. That's the finding of a new study of University of California – San Francisco.
"Poor quality of care is endemic in many nursing homes, but we found that the most serious problems occur in the largest for-profit chains," said Charlene Harrington of the UCSF School of Nursing.
"The top 10 chains have a strategy of keeping labour costs low to increase profits," Harrington said. "They are not making quality a priority."
Low nurse staffing levels are considered the strongest predictor of poor nursing home quality. The 10 largest for-profit chains operate about 2,000 nursing homes in the United States, controlling approximately 13 per cent of the country's nursing home beds.
In recent decades, nursing home chains have undergone a considerable expansion. A number of chains were publicly-traded companies until the early 2000s, when five of the country's largest chains went bankrupt. Following restructuring and ownership changes, as well as increases in Medicare payments, the largest chains became more financially stable. More recently, some of the largest publicly held chains were purchased by private equity investment firms, which invest funds received from investors, with whom they share profits and losses.
The researchers compared staffing levels and facility deficiencies at the for-profit chains to those at homes run by five other ownership groups to measure quality of care. The 10 largest chains were selected because they are influential in the nursing home industry and are the most successful in terms of growth and market share.
The study found that for-profit homes strive to keep their costs down by reducing staffing, particularly RN staffing.
Recent Medicare cuts in payment rates for nursing home residents – by 11 per cent in October, 2011 – may further jeopardise the health and safety of residents if the chains respond by reducing staffing and wages, Harrington said.
REHACARE.de; Source: University of California - San Francisco