Turns out “city folk” nursing home residents may be getting better care than those living in the Arizona equivalent of Mayberry

According to a new study reported this month in the Journal of Long Term Care:  Management, Applied Research and Clinical Issues (JAMDA) there may be a difference in the quality of care provided to nursing home residents in rural vs. urban settings.

By 2020, one-fifth of the US population will be older than 65, and about three-fourths of these inpiduals will suffer from at least one chronic disease.   Although most of these inpiduals may prefer to remain in community settings, about half of all those older than 65 will at some time need a nursing home stay either as a long-term residents or to overcome disabilities and impairments.

In the first study of its kind, urban nursing homes were recently compared to nursing homes operating in small towns and rural areas.  “[A]mong 19 quality indicators, rural nursing  homes performed more poorly in 10, suggesting that there might be differences in quality.”  This finding is important to Arizonians because 22 of our state’s 136 nursing homes are located in rural areas.

Te study found that “rural nursing homes were about 10% less likely to earn a 4-star rating on overall quality” when compared to their urban counterparts.  This finding is particularly concerning because “smaller nursing homes are nearly twice as likely to have a 4-star or higher quality rating when compared to with larger homes.”

Lastly, the “study also revealed that nonprofit and government facilities earned higher ratings than for-profit nursing homes,” a result consistent with previous research indicating that, on average, not-for-profit nursing homes delivered higher quality care than for-profit nursing homes.

What’s the practical take-away from the study? Do your research before admitting your loved one to a nursing home in the city or the country.