Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) researchers in Canada looked into 53,739 senior adults admitted to 640 senior care facilities in Ontario, Canada from Jan. 2010 to March 2012. Among the 640 facilities, 256 were not-for-profit organizations while 384 were for-profit. A year after arrival and prior to discharge, 11.7 percent of residents died while 25.7 percent were hospitalized at least once during the period.

After an in-depth analysis during the 12-month follow-up, researchers found that the hospitalization rate for seniors in for-profit homes was 462 per 1,000 per year (PY). For seniors in non-profit homes, the hospitalization rate was 358 per 1000 PY. When it comes to mortality rate, for-profit homes had 208 per 1000 PY while non-profit homes had 185 per 1000 PY.

"Those are not trivial numbers. If there's a way that we can get to the bottom of this and correct it, we could potentially be preventing many, many hospitalizations and potentially many deaths," said study researcher Dr. Peter Tanuseputro.

The findings present a high concern for Ontario, wherein 60 percent of senior care amenities are being operated privately. Experts believe that the root cause of high mortality in privately run senior facilities need to be addressed as the demand for long-term care amenities increases along with the growing rate of senior population. One doctor theorized the high mortality rate may be connected to the ratio of staff and seniors.

Family physician Dr. Margaret McGregor from the University of British Columbia expressed that past research papers have shown that for-profit amenities have few staff compared to non-profit homes. These past findings then lead to questions whether the staff-to-senior ratio affects the mortality risk.

The staff-to-senior rate also raised questions as to why the provincial government provides both kinds of long-term senior amenities with the same subsidy. Given such, both are expected to meet the same level and same guidelines when it comes to senior care.

According to Ontario Long Term Care Association, the agency that represents both types of homes in Ontario, the comparison was unfair. Its CEO, Candace Chartier, expressed that despite the growing number of seniors admitted into homes, quality indicators reveal that there is stabilization and improvement in areas.

The researchers published their study in The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (JAMDA).

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