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Calif. nursing home population growing younger

April 5, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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California nursing homes have a growing number of younger residents, and that’s putting the safety of residents, staff and facilities at risk.

A Sacramento Bee investigation of California’s 1,250 nursing homes found between 1994 and 2014, the population of California nursing home residents under age 65 increased by nearly 40 percent while the number over 65 shrank by 11 percent. Twenty percent of the state’s nursing home residents is under 65. Those younger, able-bodied adults have no apparent need for skilled nursing but often need mental and substance abuse treatment.

The Bee examined more than 1,000 pages of inspection records, federal deficiencies and state-issued citations and found a range of problems directly related to the resident population, including abuse or threats of abuse by residents and employees.

"The reality is, some of the worst nursing facilities tend to admit some of the most demanding residents," says Eric Carlson, directing attorney of the National Senior Citizens Law Center. "They’re not as competitive and, because of that, they’re more likely to get a little lazy on their admission standards and often times admit people who are inappropriate for that setting."

The Bee compared 100 nursing homes with the highest proportion of younger residents with 100 nursing homes with the highest proportion of older residents. The paper found younger residents had:

  • lower patient-staffing ratios, 3.7 nurse staffing hours per patient per day compared with 4.2 hours for elderly residents;
  • more health deficiencies per bed, 41 deficiencies per 100 residents during a three-and-a-half year period compared with 31 deficiencies for elderly residents; and
  • lower quality star rankings, on average a difference between 2.9 stars and 4.2 stars as of data from November 2015.

Read the full report here.

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