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Not-For-Profit Nursing Homes Fare Better in Studies

Quality of care higher than in for-profit residences, review finds

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Non-profit nursing homes provide better care than for-profit facilities, say Canadian researchers who reviewed the results of 82 studies from 1965 to 2003.

Forty studies found that non-profit nursing homes provided significantly better quality care, while three studies concluded that for-profit homes delivered better care. The remaining studies had mixed results. Most of the studies were conducted in Canada and the United States.

Further analysis by the team at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, suggested that non-profit homes did better in four important quality measures: more or higher quality staffing; lower rates of pressure ulcers; less use of physical restraints; and fewer deficiencies cited by regulatory agencies.

Based on their findings, the review authors calculated that if all nursing homes were non-profit, nursing home residents in the United States would receive 500,000 more hours of nursing care per day, while those in Canada would receive 42,000 more hours of nursing care per day.

The researchers also found that of 7,000 cases of pressure ulcers in Canada, 600 were directly linked to for-profit ownership of nursing homes, as were 7,000 of 80,000 pressure ulcer cases in the United States.

The findings, published online Aug. 4 in the British Medical Journal, suggest a trend toward higher quality care in non-profit nursing homes than in for-profit homes, said the McMaster researchers. But more research is needed to learn more about the factors that affect the link between profit status and quality of care, they added.

In an accompanying editorial, one expert noted that many factors other than profit status have been connected to the quality of nursing home care. Professor Tamara Konetzka, of the University of Chicago, warned that "if differences in quality between for-profit and non-profit nursing homes stem at least in part from differences in revenues rather than mission, eliminating for-profit homes may do little to eliminate differences in quality."

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about selecting a nursing home.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, news release, Aug. 4, 2009

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