How to Choose a Home?

According to a recent study by Genworth Financial, the median cost of nursing home care in the United States was $8,910 per month for a private room and $7,800 per month for a semi-private room in 2021. These costs are significantly higher than your average mortgage or credit card bills and they can be a hefty financial burden. How to choose?

Quality of Care

As an attorney representing victims of nursing home abuse and neglect for over 25 years, certain issues are linked to quality of care issues. However, most of the information necessary takes time to discover. Some of the key nursing home issues to discover when choosing a nursing home:

  1. Unsafe CNA staffing with persistent staff shortages;
  2. Use of agency nurses;
  3. High staff turnover;
  4. Fewer RNs than needed;
  5. Private equity ownership with related “management”;
  6. Out of state ownership;
  7. Supply shortages;
  8. Repeated poor surveys and complaints;
  9. Antipsychotic drug overuse for dementia;
  10. Poor infection control and drug-resistant bacteria among residents; and
  11. Hospitalizations and Mortality Rates.

After decades of research that link staffing levels to quality of care, CMS added more information about caregivers and turnover to the Nursing Home Compare website. See Care Compare here.

Also, look up if they have prior or current lawsuits filed against them here. A recent USA Today investigative report proves private equity ownership result in higher prices, lawsuits and complaints about care. A systemic problem.

Safe Staffing

Researchers agree that safe staffing levels and low turnover are some of the best predictors for good care at a nursing home.  In April 2022, the Biden administration proposed requirements for mandatory minimum staffing levels in nursing homes. However, USA TODAY  published a lengthy article on nursing home staffing patterns and staffing-related related inspections and enforcement mechanisms. The investigation found that no one enforces safe staffing guidelines for nursing homes causing abuse and neglect.

The nursing home workforce has been shrinking since 2019, when it averaged 3,374 workers. So far in 2022, the number of employees at nursing homes hovers right below 3,000. A recent USA TODAY investigation found that inspectors rarely penalize nursing homes that fall short of staffing benchmarks.

LeadingAge is a lobbying group for the industry. Of course, they call for increased federal funding but admit diversion of funds to private equity is a problem.

“Enforcing a staffing standard while simultaneously siphoning off resources is a self-defeating exercise. One commonly discussed solution to improve workforce recruitment and retention is to pay competitive wages.”

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts a 115% increase in people 85 years and older from 2020 to 2040. This group is “less capitalized for retirement, has longer life expectancies, and brings increased medical complexity.”