Private equity ownership is putting nursing home residents at risk. Nursing home staffing levels directly impact the quality of patient care and can put family members at risk. The problem is getting worse at many nursing homes, especially those that are for-profit. As private equity companies eye struggling nursing home chains, one can expect that these issues are here to stay.
Nursing Homes Keep Staffing Artificially Low
Many skilled nursing facilities operate for profit, and they are businesses at their core. The formula for nursing homes is that they try to keep as much of their Medicaid reimbursements as possible, spending as little as they can. One of the major components of costs is staffing.
Nursing homes try to save money by having fewer staff members than they need, but they also cut back on more skilled labor. RNs make the most money, and nursing homes often hire more nursing assistants at the expense of having skilled nurses. Nursing assistants can only work under the direction of trained RNs.
Private Equity Companies Look to Cut Costs
When private equity companies buy businesses, they immediately look to cut costs everywhere that they can. They are known for their ruthlessness, not caring why the business needs to spend the money. When their profit principles meet nursing home care, the results can be disastrous. They often blindly institute spending cut targets without caring about the impacts. Here, the collateral effect is the well-being of vulnerable nursing home residents.
Low Nursing Home Staffing Costs Lives
The end result is that care, which may have already been poor in the first place, will suffer even worse. Many nursing home functions are labor-intensive. For example, there needs to be enough staff in place to rotate residents’ physical positions every hour or two to prevent pressure sores. Seniors must also be changed frequently to prevent the risk of urinary tract infections. If staff does not keep up with these activities, the resident’s health will be at risk.
One alarming study has already found that private equity ownership of nursing homes has cost over 20,000 lives in a 12-year period. With nursing homes struggling and private equity firms circling, the problem is only going to grow worse. Families must be on the lookout for signs of neglect and abuse. When neglect or abuse is suspected, a nursing home lawyer can help families hold responsible parties accountable.