The push to keep labor costs low among the nation's largest for-profit nursing home chains has resulted in poor quality care, according to new research.
In a study published online in the journal Health Services Research
, researchers compared the 10 largest for-profit nursing home chains in the country with other nursing home groups, including nonchain for-profit homes, not-for-profit nursing home chains, and government-run nursing homes.
Using four quality indicators—registered nurse staffing levels, total nurse staffing levels, violations of federal quality standards, and serious federal deficiencies—they determined that the 10 largest for-profit chains had fewer nurse staffing hours than other types of nursing home groups.
The largest for-profit chains, which operate roughly 2,000 nursing homes, were also cited for 41% more serious deficiencies, such as infections and falls, than other groups.
“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,'' Charlene Harrington, professor emeritus of sociology and nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing
and the study's lead author, said in a news release. “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 researchers also found that quality of care worsened after large for-profit nursing home chains were acquired by private-equity firms.