Perhaps the most obvious structural reason to be concerned about nursing homes is the ability of our elder care institutions to absorb the number of seniors that will need long term care over the next few decades. In 2050, the number of Americans aged 65 and older will be more than double the current population of 40.2 million.
This population increase requires an immediate and significant investment in long term care infrastructure in order to prepare for tomorrow. Unfortunately, the source of this funding is uncertain. Long term care is not covered under Medicare. Thus, Americans must either save for long term care or rely upon Medicaid (which few people will be eligible for) to be available when they need it. These uncertainties make an investment in infrastructure extremely risky.
It is risky because the healthcare industry knows that most Americans dramatically underestimate the need for long term care insurance or savings. A recent article by Jennifer Aglesta and Lauran Neergaard at NBC News provides insight into what American's think. “3 in 10 would rather not think about getting older at all.” “37 percent of those surveyed mistakenly think [Medicare] will pay for aide.”
So where will the money come from to build infrastructure, to pay for long term care, and to fix what is currently broken in light of our aging population if that same population is refusing to save or build now? It won't.
Expecting children to pay for long term care is not realistic. Consequently, nursing homes have turned to other sources of income to bridge the profit gap as LTC income drops. Acute care is one of those gap-fillers. Nursing homes that provide long term care take advantage of their client base to create more profitable acute care clients. In other words, long term care is a way to farm for clients that will become profitable by getting sicker. (note that there actually is incentive to neglect long term care residents because this results in more profitable acute care income).
Yet, even acute care is under tremendous pressure as its value has been dramatically reduce by ObamaCare. In July 2011, Medicare slashed funding for acute care in nursing homes resulting in a drop of over 50% in nursing home stock value.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
How have and will nursing homes cope with shrinking profits and increased demands? A reduction in Staffing. A simple Google search for “staffing problems at nursing homes” will return 7,270,000 results. The headlines from that search are equally impressive. Some examples include:
Long Term Care Community is fighting to increase nursing home staffing levels and make nursing homes safe… 9 of 10 Nursing Homes in U.S. Lack Adequate Staff… Low Staffing and Poor Quality of Care at Nation's For-Profit Nursing Homes In all 48 of Nevada nursing homes, problems… The Nurse Staffing Crisis in Nursing Homes Staffing issues | Aged Care Crisis
A study out of the University of California, San Francisco, found that “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 study further found that
“The 10 largest for-profit chains were cited for 36 percent more deficiencies and 41 percent more serious deficiencies than the best facilities. Deficiencies include failure to prevent pressure sores, resident weight loss, falls, infections, resident mistreatment, poor sanitary conditions, and other problems that could seriously harm residents.”
So, what can you expect? Not much. Don't expect that folks will begin saving. Don't expect nursing homes to voluntarily accept less profit. Don't expect Medicare or Medicaid to magically increase funding. Don't expect that the problem will get better with time. Do expect a shift from nurses to Certified Nursing Assistants.
Perhaps the most obvious and concerning expectation is that nursing home errors and abuse will rise. We have noted a significant increase in the number of nursing home cases that come to us just in the last decade. This includes everything from bed sores due to lack of treatment to physical abuse, and everything in between.
If the nursing home community and government are unwilling to fix this problem on their own, the only recourse is our court system. When it becomes unprofitable to abuse and neglect our elderly, the practice will stop.
Find out how Rumph Childers has changed to meet the needs of our elderly and their families in nursing home abuse/neglect situations. We have made Nursing Home care litigation a priority because quality care is yours.
We offer free consultations and caring compassionate service.
- http://www.theconsumervoice.org/sites/default/files/Consensus Statement Staffing Crisis in Nursing Homes.pdf