NewsWire: 1/21/21

  • Occupancy in U.S. nursing homes has fallen by more than 195,000 residents since the end of 2019. This decline has been driven both by deaths and by fewer admissions, with many families turning to home care as a result of Covid-19. (The Wall Street Journal)
    • NH: The first Covid-19 outbreak in the US occurred at a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington. Within one month, 37 patients had died. Now, almost a full year later, long-term care facilities have accounted for over 115,000 Covid-19 deaths. 
    • As nursing homes have become virus hotspots, occupancy has plummeted. The WSJ estimates that the number of nursing home residents has dropped by 15% since late 2019. The number of Medicare nursing home clients has fallen by over 40% since 2018.

Nursing Home Occupancy Plummets. NewsWire - Jan21 1.

    • Of course, the biggest immediate driver behind the recent fall in occupancy is safety. Many ailing adults or frail elders are choosing to live with their children or are simply staying home. And a growing number of doctors are recommending home treatment over long-term care facilities. 

Nursing Home Occupancy Plummets. NewsWire - Jan21 2.

    • But the popularity of nursing homes was declining long before the pandemic ever hit. Over the last few decades, first the Silent and then Boomers have demonstrated a growing aversion to institutional care as they reached their 70s and 80s. Nursing home? No thank you. I think I'll "age in place" if at all possible. A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nursing home occupancy fell from 84% in 2009 to 80% in 2019--which is remarkable given the shrinkage in the number of long-term care beds along with the growth in the total number of 85+ "old old." (See “More Americans Are Dying at Home Than at the Hospital,” “There's No Place Like Home,” and “Is the Death Care Industry Dying?”) 
    • To see which way the wind is blowing, look no further than the price of Genesis Healthcare Inc. (GEN) versus Amedisys Inc. (AMED). As the WSJ points out, Genesis Healthcare, one of the largest US nursing home companies, has seen its ticker fall -55% YoY, while Amedisys, a home health care company, has seen its ticker rise +65% YoY. The numbers speak for themselves.