Just a few decades ago, over 90% of all Medicaid dollars for senior care went towards nursing homes. These institutions were seen as the only option for seniors in need of long-term care. However, according to a recent survey by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care, now 1 in 5 nursing home beds go unused, and the national nursing home occupancy rate has dropped 6 percentage points since 2011.
This is partly because the senior care landscape is changing, with more in-home and assisted living options than ever before. However, as fewer elderly patients opt into nursing homes, there could be dangerous ramifications for current nursing home residents, many of whom need ongoing medical attention from skilled staff members.
WHY HAVE NURSING HOME RESIDENT NUMBERS DECREASED?
There are multiple reasons that resident numbers dropped from 1.48 million in 2000 to only 1.36 million by 2015, in spite of a rapidly aging population. Nursing homes now face intense competition from in-home care providers and assisted living communities, which can often be cheaper for insurers. Regulatory agencies have also recently cracked down on inadequate staffing at nursing homes – Kaiser Health News reported in July that more than 7 in 10 nursing home facilities had exaggerated their staff levels, garnering widespread attention and press.
Without enough incoming patient revenue to pay the bills, many nursing homes have been unable to keep the lights on, or to hire enough qualified nursing home professionals. According to federal data, at least 300 nursing homes are now closing their doors annually. This, in turn, has led to fewer elderly patients selecting nursing homes for their care needs.
INCREASED RISK OF NURSING HOME NEGLECT
Low staffing levels have already caused some residents to face neglect at the hands of overworked caregivers. But with more nursing homes closing their doors each year, the remaining facilities may look for even more ways to cut down on costs at the expense of their patients. Those who are too sick for in-home care or who need round-the-clock medical supervision may be left with limited options.
At Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP, our nursing home abuse attorneys understand how painful it can be to see a loved one suffer from inadequate care. As this troubling trend continues, it will become all the more important to watch your loved ones carefully for signs of elder abuse and nursing home neglect. From bed sores to unexplained medical issues, the signs of neglect can be subtle, but have a major impact on the wellbeing and health of your loved one.
If you suspect that your loved one has endured nursing home neglect, contact us immediately at 855-965-1688 for a free consultation.