A study conducted at Brown University found that there is a "white flight" of sorts happening in American nursing homes. White residents are moving out and turning to other options while Black, Latino and Asian seniors are moving into nursing homes at increasing rates. The study was reported in colorlines.com, a news site concentrating on racial justice issues.
Researchers found that between 1999 and 2008, the number of senior Latinos living in U.S. nursing homes climbed by almost 55 percent; Asians by 54.1 percent; and Blacks 10.8 percent. During those same years, white nursing home patients decreased by 10.2 percent.
So what's up with that?
Experts believe that like most things, it's about money and access.
White seniors on average have more income, and with that income they can afford other options. Among these are assisted living facilities, which are usually located in more affluent neighborhoods and offer better care. Meanwhile seniors of color — who, on average, make less money — are more likely to move to nursing homes in lower-income areas, which past studies have shown are more likely to provide less quality care and close down.
“The growing proportion of minorities in nursing homes is coming about partly because they do not have the same access to more desirable forms of care as wealthier whites do,” said the study’s lead author Zhanlian Feng, assistant professor of community health in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
“Seemingly, we are closing the gap in terms of minority access to nursing home beds, but I don’t think that is something to celebrate,” Feng said in a statement. “They are really the last resort. Most elders would rather stay in their homes, or some place like home, but not a nursing home unless they have to….”
“As policymakers look to ‘rebalance’ elder care from nursing homes to other forms of care, for instance with shifts in Medicaid funding to support home and community-based services, they should account for these disparities,” Feng said.
In other nursing home-related news, a recent report found that flu vaccinations rates among African-American residents are improving, but are still lower than white residents. Another group of researchers from Brown University suggests that African-Americans who live in nursing homes are less likely to be offered the vaccine and more likely to refuse it if offered.
The Doctor's Lounge reported:
The investigators found that the vaccination rates showed a small improvement among nursing home residents, especially for Blacks. Among the nursing home residents, Blacks remained less likely to be vaccinated than whites, and the overall vaccination rates remained below the 90 percent target for high quality care. Within the same facility, Blacks were less likely to be vaccinated than whites, and they had higher odds of living in a facility with lower vaccination rates. In addition, Blacks were more likely to refuse vaccination.
"Flu vaccination rates in nursing homes have improved, particularly for Black residents, over a fairly short period of time. Nonetheless, racial differences persist," the authors write.
Read the full report — Growth of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in U.S. Nursing Homes Driven by Demographics and Possible Disparities in Options — here.
(Photo: The Plain Dealer /Landov)