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Assisted living options grow, while nursing home occupancy declines

May 23, 2012
by Sandra Hoban
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A new study finds a connection between a growth in assisted living options and a decline in nursing home occupancy. The assisted living data is patchy, however, because the industry is less regulated and receives less government money as opposed to the highly regulated and heavily financed nursing home industry.

The study, which will appear in Health Services Research, acknowledges that nursing home data was more readily available to the researchers than that of assisted living. Each state had to be contacted for data with only 13 state having data available.

According to researchers, a 10 percent increase in assisted living capacity led to a 1.4 percent decline in private-pay skilled nursing occupancy. Assisted living is usually a private-pay arrangement. The study predicted that its expansion would not impact nursing homes’ Medicare/Medicaid populations.

Lead researcher David Grabowski, PhD, professor of health care policy, Harvard Medical School, noted that as assisted living options expand, including home- and community-based care, nursing homes will see an increase in the level of care it provides.

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