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 according to an article published online in advance of print publication in Health Services Research.
The University of California- san Francisco analyzed the quality of care at nursing homes around the country. It is the first-ever study focusing solely on staffing and quality at the 10 largest for-profit chains. Those chains in 2008 were: HCR Manor Care, Golden Living, Life Care Centers of America, Kindred Healthcare, Genesis HealthCare Corporation, Sun Health Care Group, Inc., SavaSeniorCare LLC, Extendicare Health Services, Inc., National Health Care Corporation, and Skilled HealthCare, LLC.
According to the article, from 2003 to 2008, these chains had fewer nurse “staffing hours” than non-profit and government nursing homes. Their total nursing hours were 30 percent lower and they were below the national average for RN and total nurse staffing. The article also indicated they had the sickest residents- those that need more aggressive care.
These chains were cited for 36 percent more deficiencies and 41 percent more serious deficiencies than the best facilities in the country. Deficiencies include failure to prevent pressure sores, resident weight loss, falls, infections, resident mistreatment, poor sanitary conditions, and other problems that could seriously harm residents.
The authors indicated that more study is needed. They also suggested that greater accountability and quality oversight mechanisms would help improve nursing home care, along with effective funding incentives and sanctions for low staffing and poor quality.
The important message from this study to consumers considering putting a loved one in a nursing home is to look closely at the nursing homes before putting a loved one there. An excellent organization to obtain information about nursing homes is The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term care (formerly NCCNHR; http://www.theconsumervoice.org/ )