A study released by the University of Illinois at Chicago reports that for-profit nursing homes provide lower-quality care to their elderly residents. This study provides further confirmation that the for-profit nursing home industry, which is still growing across the country, is sacrificing adequate care for vulnerable senior citizens in the pursuit of ever-growing profits. Once again, elder care advocates are sounding the alarm about the substandard quality of care and the need for greater government oversight while President Trump’s administration continues to deregulate the industry.
The University of Illinois at Chicago study included more than 1,100 senior citizens living at five different Chicago hospitals between 2007 and 2011. The results showed a stark difference in the quality of life and health of elderly residents depending on whether their nursing home operated as a non-profit or as a profit-seeking business. Overall, residents at for-profit nursing homes were twice as likely to have health problems related to poor or neglectful care. Among other maladies, for-profit residents were more likely to suffer from severe dehydration, develop stage 3 and stage 4 pressure ulcers – the most serious and commonly preventable type of pressure ulcer, or bed sore. Further, the study concluded that broken catheters and dislodged feeding tubes were more common in for-profit nursing homes and their patients were less likely to receive satisfactory care for their chronic health conditions.
Given the severity and enormity of lapses seen in nursing homes operating as businesses, the author of the study, Professor Lee Friedman, noted that this severely substandard level of care fell within the definition of elder abuse, a crime in the State of New York. These business-minded nursing homes generally
For these business-minded nursing homes, not only is average spending lower on their elderly residents the for-profit nursing home industry also employs and generously pays more high-level administrators. Consequently, the nurses and medical staff are generally paid lower wages when compared to non-profit nursing homes, which means nursing home residents receive skimpier care, from fewer medical professionals, who have lower credentials and less experience. Dr. Friedman states this creates a “low morale among the staff” and, sadly, the residents suffer even further.
Dr. Friedman recommends stronger oversight of the for-profit nursing home system, along with greater accountability for those facilities who mistreat their residents. Unfortunately, the trend towards consolidation and monetization of the nursing home industry has only accelerated over the past decade and President Trump’s administration is choosing to loosen regulations. The burden, therefore, will fall on families, state governments, and the legal system to stop these businesses from harming the elderly to maximize their profits.
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