Private equity firms have added health care to their portfolios. And, as a result, nursing home residents are worse off for it. Keep this in mind when conducting research into finding the right nursing home for your aging parent.
According to a recent article in The New Yorker, when private equity firms acquire a nursing home, sweeping budget cuts coupled with an extreme reduction in staff lead to a serious drop in quality of care.
Quality of care plummets
After an 18-month investigation into a Virginia nursing home acquired by private equity firm Portopiccolo Group, reporter Yasmin Rafiei came to these conclusions. She found that within two weeks of acquiring St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged in Richmond, the private equity fired a substantial number of staff.
While staffing represents the largest operational cost at a nursing home, it also represents a barometer regarding the outcome of resident care.
With fewer staff numbers, tasks fell by the wayside, leading to an assortment of problems. For example, at the Virginia nursing home, one resident went a week without bathing, and another did not have her hair washed for several months.
Another alarming development: a resident had difficulty breathing due to her oxygen being unplugged. Although the resident called for assistance, no one arrived for 90 minutes.
Nursing home deaths increase 10%
Another result of the changes made by Portopiccolo led to a deadly outbreak of COVID-19 at the Virginia nursing home.
Are residents safer when a nursing home turns into a for-profit business under private equity firms? The numbers do not attest to this. A study by the University of Pennsylvania disclosed that death rates at nursing homes increased by 10% after acquired by private equity firms.
Be alert to this development
You may have heard horror stories about the care at nursing homes but did not want to believe them. Be on the alert when you learn that a private equity firm has acquired a nursing home that you considered as a potential residence for your loved one.