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Nursing Homes: A System in Crisis

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Publication Date: June 2004

Publisher(s): California HealthCare Foundation

Author(s): Charlene Harrington; Janis O'Meara

Topic: Health (Hospitals and other health care facilities)

Type: Brief

Coverage: California


The number of Californians age 65 and older is projected to double in the next decade. Many of the facilities slated to provide long-term care for these individuals already operate with deficits in nurse staffing levels and operating budgets. Low staffing and high turnover among low-wage personnel contribute to poor quality of care. Serious problems include:

*One-third of freestanding nursing homes did not meet the state's minimum nurse staffing standards. *Many show signs of poor care, including: a high percentage of residents who lose weight, are left in bed all or most of the time, or are placed in physical restraints. *Most do not comply with federal regulations for care and safety.

The Snapshot also provides information on:

*Nursing hours per resident, per day; *Staff turnover rates; *Rates of violation of federal and state regulations; *Complaints filed; *Comparative performance between for-profit and nonprofit nursing homes; *Bed occupancy and vacancy rates; *Nursing home resident demographics, including length of stay; and *Sources of payment and the industry's financial status.