Rhode Island nursing home labor costs rose 13 percent from 2009 to 2012, according to a recent report, as the cost of skilled care for the oldest residents keeps rising.
Rhode Island has been first in the country or close to first for years in caring for populations aged 85 or older, according to administrators at nursing homes in Newport, Providence and surrounding communities. That need to care for the very old, plus those with acute health conditions, requires a higher skill level for many staff members, managerial skills for some registered nurses and compensation for that, administrators and industry experts say.
Virginia M. Burke, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Health Care Association, which represents 65 nursing homes in the state, said that although Rhode Island consistently is rated “excellent” in nursing home care inspections, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Baltimore, it is “a precarious time” for the industry here.
“We are No. 1 in the country for the proportion of patients [older than] 85 and that is the group that is most at risk for needing nursing home care,” said Burke. “It’s a serious issue for our state.”
Caring for the sickest naturally drives labor costs up, she added.
BlumShapiro, a New England accounting, tax and business consulting firm headquartered in West Hartford, Conn., produced the 13 percent statistic based on a report it compiles annually for clients on Rhode Island nursing homes.
The firm analyzed occupancy percentages and labor and employee-related per diem expenses at all of the state’s 83 nursing homes from 2009 to 2012 by obtaining data through Freedom of Information requests from the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services, said Monica A. Motta, a partner in the Providence office of BlumShapiro.