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Should Not-for-Profit Senior Care Be Getting More Attention?

By Jan Bolder - February 14, 2014

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There are essentially two types of senior care in the United States: private and for profit, and not-for-profit (combination of not-for-profits and government homes). While a casual assumption may associate "better care" with the former and "lousy care" with the latter, that's not always the case and not-for-profit care can have tremendous benefits, too. Here's a look at the pros and cons of not-for-profit senior care in the United States.



  • Deficiencies: A deficiency in a nursing home is something like a medication mistake, infected bedsore, or using physical restraints. Although not-for-profit homes posted an average of 5.7 deficiencies per home according to a 2007 academic paper, for-profit nursing homes rated much higher with 7.6 deficiencies per nursing home in the same year.

  • Quality of Care: A common line of thinking is for-profit homes' main interest is in sustaining a healthy bottom line to keep competitive, and this may extend to skimping on care. But in not-for-profit homes where profit isn't the driving motivator, care is reasoned to be better.

  • Medicaid: The main way a senior pays for a not-for-profit senior care home is through Medicaid, which can eliminate a lot of worry and hassle. Further, beds and files in nursing homes aren't marked with a big "MEDICAID!" stamp so as not to identify those who paid out of pocket and those who didn't.



  • Availability: There just aren't nearly as many not-for-profit senior care homes in the United States, as for-profit homes comprise about two-thirds of all nursing homes.

  • Possible Lack of Choice: The biggest provider of not-for-profit homes in the United States is the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, which operates 6,531 beds in 22 states. Although they're bigger than the biggest for-profit organizations, seniors may not want to live in a faith-associated nursing home.

  • Payment Competition: Medicaid might be the most common way to pay for a not-for-profit nursing home, but the recent health insurance reforms mean that private insurance companies are stepping up to the plate. Whether that'll result in better payment and care options remains to be seen, as only time will tell.

    The biggest desire of seniors is to age in their homes so they can retain as much independence as possible. However, that may not always be the case and sometimes children have to make the difficult decision to place their parents in a nursing home. Some of the benefits of this include round-the-clock specialized care, assistance with daily activities, social and recreational activities, and quick access to medical professionals.

    However, the move to a nursing home can be a traumatic one. It means moving out of the home the senior's grown most comfortable in and into an institution where the rules are different. Seniors have to adjust to a completely different way of living and be apart from the things that make home "home", and at an age where it can be increasingly difficult to make the transition.

    Choosing a not-for-profit care home for seniors can be a very good decision for some, but the choice should be approached with thoughtfulness and care. Whether it's right for your parents is something to discuss with them, and differs on an individual basis.