Texans in nursing homes need more complex care than ever

Texans entering nursing homes since 2009 need more skilled nursing care than ever, a new look at state data reveals.

Experts cite complications arising from diabetes, tracheotomies and Alzheimer’s care as examples of the increasing medical complexities faced by Texas nursing homes.

“As more disabled and older Texans receive long-term care in their homes, the patient mix in nursing homes is changing,” said Kevin Warren, president of the Texas Health Care Association. Those who are relying on skilled nursing facilities have more complicated and costly health care needs requiring greater hands-on care.”

When a family admits a loved one into a Texas nursing home, a complete assessment of the resident’s medical condition and needs is completed. These care needs are then used to establish the cost of that individual’s service plan and to identify provider reimbursement rates. Since 2009, a weighted average of these individual assessments shows a steady increase toward more complicated, more expensive care.

This helps explain why nursing home costs continue to rise even as the total number of Texans needing nursing home care dropped slightly, from about 64,000 in 2006 to about 61,000 in 2014.

“Overall, Texas is better able to serve more people with the same money by allowing those who can to stay home,” Warren said. “But the downside of that is, by the time someone needs the level of skilled care they can only get in a nursing home, they require more time and attention from the nursing staff.”