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Low staffing and poor quality of care at nation's for-profit nursing homes
Date:11/29/2011

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 UCSF-led analysis of 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.

The article is published online in advance of print publication in Health Services Research.

"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."

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 percent 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 lev
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Contact: Elizabeth Fernandez
elizabeth.fernandez@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert  

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