In Rockford, Illinois, nursing home competition is fierce, but it can lead to abuse or neglect. Rockford is considered “overbedded” due to an overabundance of nursing care and rehabilitation beds. The average occupancy rate in an Illinois nursing home is 80 – 82%, which means 14,000 vacancies per 100,000 beds. Nursing home officials are learning how to deal with the situation and adapt in a market full of senior care options.
Nursing homes are adapting the changing senior lifestyle choices by offering more care options. New business is being be attracted by transforming available nursing home wings into adult day care centers or adding short-term rehabilitation beds. In fact, two of the most popular business trends in Illinois today are short-term rehabilitation and late-stage Alzheimer’s round-the-clock care.
Years ago, a senior fractured hip called for hospitalization for at least three months to heal and rehabilitate. Today, the same injury requires a two to three day hospitalization and then a stay at a short-term care facility for rehabilitation. According to Terry Sullivan, the regulatory director at the Health Care Council of Illinois, “Short-term rehab is ‘a big part of nursing home business these days'” because a hospitalization is much more costly. Sullivan also said, “More facilities are specializing in one or the other. Many are licensed to do both, and a number of facilities went for a variance only to serve Alzheimer’s residents…But there are higher standards that have to be met.”
According to Nancy Nelson, AARP Illinois senior manager for advocacy, “advocates are trying to balance the protections for seniors in long-term care facilities with the rules and regulations those facilities face when trying to change their business models.”