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Profits Over Patients: Study Finds Quality Concerns at Largest For-Profit Nursing Homes
A recent study conducted by researchers at UC San Francisco concluded that consumers considering a nursing home should also ask ‘who owns this place’? The study found that among the nation’s 10 largest for-profit nursing home chains the quality of care delivered to patients was significantly lower than their non-for-profit counterparts. The main reason: staffing levels were lower and thus deficiencies were higher. Low staffing levels are a concern because they are considered the strongest predictor of poor nursing home quality.
The study, the first of its kind to focus on staffing and quality at the ten largest nursing home chains, found that total nursing hours were lower in these chain’s home than any other group. Additionally, the number of “deficiencies” were 36 percent higher, and “serious deficiencies” were 41 percent higher for homes managed by the large for-profit nursing home chains. Deficiencies can include failure to prevent pressure sores, falls, infections, improper nutrition, resident abuse or mistreatment, and poor sanitary conditions.
Study author Charlene Harrington, RN, PhD, professor emeritus of sociology and nursing at the UCSF School of Nursing made the following statement regarding their findings: “Poor quality of care is endemic of many nursing homes, but we found that the most serious problems occur in the largest for-profit chains.” She went on to say, “The top 10 chains have a strategy of keeping labor costs low to increase profits. They are not making quality a priority.”
According to the study, the largest nursing home chains control approximately 13 percent of all nursing home beds and operate nearly 2000 nursing homes across the country. The nation’s 10 largest for-profit nursing home chains are HCR Manor Care, Golden Living, Life Care Living Centers of America, Kindred Healthcare, Genesis Healthcare Corp., Sun Healthcare Group Inc., SavaSeniorcare LLC, Extendicare Health Services Inc., National Healthcare Corp., and Skilled Healthcare LLC.