Tuesday, January 5, 2021
The Wall Street Journal published this piece back in December. Covid Spurs Families to Shun Nursing Homes, a Shift That Appears Long Lasting explains the trend
The pandemic is reshaping the way Americans care for their elderly, prompting family decisions to avoid nursing homes and keep loved ones in their own homes for rehabilitation and other care.
. . .
The drop-off has persisted since spring, including at times when the virus’s spread was subdued. In the summer, when many hospitals were performing near-normal levels of the kinds of procedures that often result in nursing-home stays, referrals to nursing homes remained down.
Occupancy in U.S. nursing homes is down by 15%, or more than 195,000 residents, since the end of 2019, driven both by deaths and by the fall in admissions, a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data shows.
The decline in nursing-home patients covered by Medicare, which provides payments vital to the homes’ business model, is even steeper. That has left the industry in precarious financial shape. The biggest U.S. nursing-home company said in August it might not have enough money to pay its obligations.
I always ask my students two questions when we cover the topic of nursing homes: 1. do they believe nursing homes are important to our society for the provision of long term care? (they answer yes). 2. How many of them want to reside in a SNF at some point in their lives? (they answer no).
Surveys have long shown many patients don’t want to go to nursing homes. The pandemic has made them even less popular, according to a September survey of adults 40 and older by AARP. Just 7% said they would prefer a nursing home for family members needing long-term care, and 6% said they would choose one for themselves. Nearly three in 10 respondents said the pandemic had made them less likely to choose institutional care.
The article notes that the SNF industry has already begun to pivot, and home health care agencies are expanding their services. Medicare's changes to allow for more services in homes also help as some of the Advantage plans have already moved in that direction. The article provides some interesting anecdotes about some of the services available. It's past time for us to rethink how we provide long term care in this country. Long past time....
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Thanks to Professor Dick Kaplan for sending me this article.