Swedish nursing home care has undergone a transformation, where the previous virtual public monopoly on providing such services has been replaced by a system of mixed provision. This has led to a rapidly growing share of private actors, the majority of which are large, for-profit firms. In the wake of this development, concerns have been voiced regarding the implications for care quality. In this article, we investigate the relationship between ownership and care quality in nursing homes for the elderly by comparing quality levels between public, for-profit, and non-profit nursing home care providers. We also look at a special category of for-profit providers; private equity companies.
The source of data is a national survey conducted by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare in 2011 at 2710 nursing homes. Data from 14 quality indicators are analyzed, including structure and process measures such as staff levels, staff competence, resident participation, and screening for pressure ulcers, nutrition status, and risk of falling. The main statistical method employed is multiple OLS regression analysis. We differentiate in the analysis between structural and processual quality measures.
The results indicate that public nursing homes have higher quality than privately operated homes with regard to two structural quality measures: staffing levels and individual accommodation. Privately operated nursing homes, on the other hand, tend to score higher on process-based quality indicators such as medication review and screening for falls and malnutrition. No significant differences were found between different ownership categories of privately operated nursing homes.
Ownership does appear to be related to quality outcomes in Swedish nursing home care, but the results are mixed and inconclusive. That staffing levels, which has been regarded as a key quality indicator in previous research, are higher in publicly operated homes than private is consistent with earlier findings. The fact that privately operated homes, including those operated by for-profit companies, had higher processual quality is more unexpected, given previous research. Finally, no significant quality differences were found between private ownership types, i.e. for-profit, non-profit, and private equity companies, which indicates that profit motives are less important for determining quality in Swedish nursing home care than in other countries where similar studies have been carried out.
Cites: J Health Econ. 2002 Mar;21(2):293-311 PMID 11939243