US blacks get inferior nursing home care to whites: studies

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WASHINGTON (AFP) “” Elderly black Americans in nursing homes get worse care than that enjoyed by their white counterparts, researchers at an elite US university have found.

“If you’re black, you’re much more likely to get your care in a nursing home that’s not so good, relative to nursing homes that are serving predominantly white patients,” Dr Vincent Mor, head of the department of community health at Rhode Island-based Brown University’s school of medicine, told AFP on Tuesday.

Mor was one of the lead authors of a recent study which looked at “racial segregation in US nursing homes and its relationship to racial disparities in the quality of care.”

That study published last year, which cited race data from nursing homes that has “only recently been made available,” found US nursing homes “remain relatively segregated.”

“Blacks are much more likely than whites to be located in nursing homes that have serious deficiencies, lower staffing ratios, and greater financial vulnerability,” the study said.

Another study led by Brown University researchers and due to be published in June in the Health Services Research medical journal, looked at the rate of hospitalization of nursing home residents.

That study, co-authored by Brown associate professor and gerontology researcher Susan Miller, showed that nearly one-quarter of black nursing home residents — 24.1 percent — required hospitalization at some stage, compared with 18.5 percent white residents.

It found that nursing homes “with high concentrations of blacks had 20 percent higher odds … of hospitalization than residents in nursing homes with no blacks”, and linked the quality of care to the reimbursement policies of Medicaid, the US program for those unable to pay for healthcare.

Medicaid coverage varies from state to state.

“Quality nursing home care is dependent on the availability of resources but nursing homes that are largely Medicaid-reliant are often disadvantaged because Medicaid rates are generally below private pay rates and sometimes below actual costs of care,” the study said.

“Such facilities disproportionately serve black residents,” it added.

The rate of hospitalization was an indicator of performance, as were “a whole variety of different measures of quality in terms of regulatory compliance, staffing levels, and so on,” Mor explained.

“Both studies clearly suggest that nursing homes which have a predominance or much higher proportion of African-American residents perform more poorly,” Mor said

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