Non-profit Nursing Homes Offer Certain Advantages

Those that have gone through the process of finding a nursing home for a loved one can tell you how much of a challenge it can sometimes be. Making such an important decision for an ailing parent or loved one can be difficult and overwhelming. Knowing the right questions to ask and the right characteristics to look for are vital to making a better and more informed choice. You can go online ( as one example) and print a list that consists of questions like “what’s the staffing ratio?”, “do you do background checks on staff?”, or does it smell and look clean? But one question to ask that you may not always see on these lists is whether it is a non-profit or a for-profit facility. Being aware of the ownership status can be a very good starting point.

A number of national senior and health care advocacy groups like Leading Age, Physicians for a National Health Program and the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc have determined through extensive research that the type of nursing home ownership and sponsorship can affect the quality of care that facilities provide to their residents. It can even affect the rate of hospitalization and the potential discharge to home percentage.

Much of the statistical research consistently determined that non-profit nursing homes offered specific advantages, such as:

• fewer deficiencies in total
• fewer deficiencies causing harm or jeopardy to a resident
• fewer residents taking antipsychotic medications
• lower prevalence of restraints
• lower prevalence of pressure ulcers (bed sores)
• lower hospitalization rates
• higher staffing number of registered nurses
• higher staffing ratios overall
• higher ranking on the Center for Medicare/Medicaid (CMS) Five-Star rating system
• higher discharge to home rates

I’m not suggesting that 100% of the time a non-profit nursing home is always a better choice; however, it’s hard to argue with these numerous sources and research supporting the facts. Non-profit retirement communities and nursing homes like Messiah Village are not looking to create profit for shareholders or the executives running the company. If positive revenue exceeds operational costs, non-profits typically put that money back into the facility by making improvements to the physical plant, focusing on staff retention and increasing wages, and by looking for ways to improve policy and procedure to create a better overall living experience for residents.

Ultimately deciding on a nursing home for a parent or spouse needs to be a well-planned collaborative decision, involving the perspective resident and their loved ones and/or their responsible persons. Taking suggestions from the doctor, a social worker or someone who’s gone through it is fine. However, there are more precise ways to evaluate the choice. In Pennsylvania, go to the Department of Health website to obtain a full list of nursing homes county-by-county, which also includes detail about profit vs. non-profit status, licensed number of beds, plus survey results that lists specific deficiencies and the subsequent plan of correction. Also call to schedule visits and tour several nursing facilities. And, if possible, do this ahead of time, not at the last-minute or during the time of crisis.

For more information or questions about finding the right nursing home for you or a loved one, please contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching office at 717-591-7225 or email

Resources cited:

“Non-profit nursing homes provide better care, major study finds” from

“Non-Profit vs. For-Profit Nursing Homes: Is there a Difference in Care?” from

“5 Ways Not-for-Profit Nursing Homes are Different” by Geralyn Magan at

“For-Profit Nursing Homes Have Low Staffing and Poor Quality of Care” by Grace Rattue at


Initially Published- 06/20/2013


Matthew J. Gallardo

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matt is the Director of Community Engagement and Coaching at Messiah Lifeways. He brings nearly 20 years of experience in counseling, advocating, and guiding older adults and caregivers through many of life’s tough decisions. His diverse background of working in hospital and rehabilitation settings, community services, and senior housing gives him the breadth and depth of knowledge to provide unique solutions, opportunities, and help individuals proactively plan for the future. He serves as the Lifeways Coach and as a writer, blogger, podcaster, and speaker for Messiah Lifeways, located in Mechanicsburg, PA.

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