11/19/11

Major increases in long term care staffing. But the future...?

The number of full time equivalent staff in Ontario long term care (LTC) facilities increased from 51,898 to 62,739 between 2003/4 and to 2009/10.  That's an increase of 10,841 staff, or 20.9%. That is significantly more rapid than the growth in the number of approved beds (which increased by 8.8% over the same period, as discussed earlier this week).  This may reflect the growing age and infirmity of residents in LTC homes. Still staffing falls far short of need.

Will the staffing increase continue? It's hard to see other alternatives in the longer term.  But right now there is a decided lack of enthusiasm for long term care from the Minister of Health and LTC and problems in the industry are bubbling down south, thanks to government austerity.

Kaiser reports that the stocks of US nursing-home operators — and the landlords that rent to them — have tanked since late July, when the federal US government announced an 11.1 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements (thanks to government austerity).  As noted earlier, operators are forecasting 20,000 layoffs as a result of the Medicare cuts.   

There is some cross-over between for-profit Canadian and US LTC operators.  Extendicare REIT stock is trading considerably lower than its 52 week high, after taking a hit when the US Medicare cuts were announced.  The Markham, Ontario, based Extendicare gets 70% of its revenue from the USA and the rest from Canada.

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