Sick man in hospital bed
Credit: Halfdark

Significantly fewer nursing home residents were hospitalized over the past 10 years, according to a new analysis of federal data focusing on quality of care.

Some 8.7% fewer residents have been sent to the hospital during their nursing home stays since 2011, according to a study released Friday by the America Health Care Association/National Center, which commissioned it.

The findings prove how long-term care providers have made changes to enhance the quality of care provided to residents, said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.

“Providers and caregivers should be recognized for these improvements made over the past decade, even as we raise the bar even higher,” Parkinson said. “But that will only be possible if health policy officials and lawmakers help us secure the resources we need moving forward.”

The report findings come on the heels of President Joe Biden launching a sweeping nursing home reform initiative. The 21-point plan includes proposals for a minimum staffing standard and increased oversight. 

The study also found that nursing homes received about 3.5 million admissions from hospitals each year from 2010 to 2020 and about two-thirds of them were able to return home after receiving rehabilitation therapy. 

A 40% decline in the number of residents receiving antipsychotic medications also was found, according to report authors. Fewer than 14% of  nursing home residents are currently receiving antipsychotic medications as of 2020, which is a significant decline from the one out of four residents taking the medications in 2011, they added.

Findings also showed 1 out of 3 nursing homes received four or five stars from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for staffing and, on average, nurses put in an additional 198 total hours of care per nursing home each quarter.