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Financial incentives for Virginia nursing homes to improve care?

It seems like there is always bad news about Virginia nursing homes – just look at some articles we’ve written in the past:

The question at the front of many people’s minds is: what can we do to encourage Virginia nursing homes to take better care of their residents?  The answer just might be public report cards.

Can public report cards improve care standards?

In 2002 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services introduced the Nursing Home Compare (NHC) report card, which was intended to be a tool for families looking for a quality nursing home in their state.  The report card measures how well different facilities keep residents active, manage their pain, prevent bedsores, and more.

One theory has been that tools like the NHC report card would push facilities to improve care to appear more attractive on paper to potential residents and their families.  However, some for-profit nursing homes have been reluctant to change their operations, not wanting to waste money unless it would bring them increased revenue.

The pressure of for-profit nursing homes

Critics believe that for-profit nursing homes – which have to pay 10 to 15 percent of their profits in overhead to shareholders and taxes – are more likely to cut corners or skimp on care if it will let them hold on to more of their money.  As distasteful as it may seem to outsiders, a study was needed to convince for-profit nursing homes that spending money to improve care and score better on the NHC report card would improve their bottom line. 

That study has been done, and the study’s authors hope that the results will lead to improved care for nursing home residents.  Researchers found that nursing homes receiving an improved their NHC report card score are more likely to increase their revenue.  Why?  Because residents and their families are more likely to be attracted to a highly rated facility than one that received low marks.

Hopefully this study will push nursing homes in Virginia to improve their quality of care and better the lives of their residents – even if it is just to make more money.  On a side note, previous studies have found that non-profit nursing homes deliver better care than for-profit facilities – something to keep in mind.

Need help with a case of suspected abuse or neglect?

No matter how carefully you select a nursing home or assisted living facility for your loved one, the worst can happen – abuse or neglect.  If you suspect abuse or neglect, please take action immediately.  You can contact us confidentially for a no cost, no obligation discussion.

Richard A. Dulaney
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Richard has over 30 years of experience in personal injury law.