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Lower Quality of Care at For-Profit Nursing Homes

January 16th, 2012

Charlene Harrington, RN, PhD, FAAN

Results of a new study suggest that the nation’s largest for-profit nursing homes deliver significantly lower quality of care, compared with smaller and not-for-profit nursing homes. Why? Fewer staff nurses (despite profits).

The study looked at quality in the 10 largest for-profit chains, which control about 13% of all nursing home beds in the country. They were choses because of their influence and expansiveness. The researchers from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) found that when nursing homes put profits ahead of people, they cut costs by reducing the number of staff… especially trained and experienced (but more expensive) staff.

“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 first author Charlene Harrington, RN, PhD, professor emeritus of sociology and nursing at the UCSF School of Nursing. Harrington also is director of the UCSF National Center for Personal Assistance Services.

“The top 10 chains have a strategy of keeping labor costs low to increase profits,” Harrington said. “They are not making quality a priority.”

The correlation is so strong that many experts believe that the best predictor of nursing home care is the number of nurses working at the facility.

Something to remember if you should find yourself looking for a good nursing home.