Nursing-home evictions raise bigger questions

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Some disturbing news appeared last week in The Wall Street Journal. The highly respected newspaper found that nursing homes are evicting long-term, frail residents—many on Medicaid—to make room for short-stay residents.

This timely information (See more at http://www.mcknights.com/News-report-Illegal-nursing-home-evictions-on-the-rise/article/113572/) comes as nursing homes are openly courting the short-stay population. These residents—who typically come for rehabilitation or treatment and stay for 30 days or less—are on Medicare, which, pays much more per day to nursing homes than Medicaid.

The industry, which reportedly argued that evictions are not common, cannot deny it is going out of its way to woo this lucrative group. My InnerView, a research company that performs many long-term care surveys, recently published a story called “The Changing Landscape from long term care to short-term stay: What are your short-stay customers saying?” It appears on the Web site of Provider magazine, the journal of the American Health Care Association, the largest association of nursing homes. (You can see it at www.providermagazine.com.)

The article stresses the need to meet short-term residents’ expectations as a way to enhance facilities’ reputations in their communities and improve their abilities to attract short-stay admissions.

“As the trend to shorter stays, more acute patients, and more admissions and discharges continues to grow, providers’ reliance on this population for their success becomes ever more important,” according to the article, which was written by Brad Shiverick, chief quality officer for My InnerView.

These two reports—the one in the Journal and the one in the caregiver publication—represent a conflict inherent in catering to this short-stay group. On the one hand, nursing homes are benefiting from these residents, who bring in valuable revenues. But as the Journal suggests, in their quest to attract these residents they may be jeopardizing the lives of their long-term care residents.

As nursing homes continue to walk down this short-stay path, it may be time for them to re-evaluate their purpose: Are they places for residents to live out their last days or temporary treatment centers? And can they be both?

Whatever they are, they should not sacrifice one population to serve another. If they do, then they ultimately are not fulfilling their missions as healthcare providers.
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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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