Does regulating private long-term care facilities lead to better care? A study from Quebec, Canada

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Abstract

Objective.

In the province of Quebec, Canada, long-term residential care is provided by two types of facilities: publicly funded accredited facilities and privately owned facilities in which care is privately financed and delivered. Following evidence that private facilities were delivering inadequate care, the provincial government decided to regulate this industry. We assessed the impact of regulation on care quality by comparing quality assessments made before and after regulation. In both periods, public facilities served as a comparison group.

Design.

A cross-sectional study conducted in 2010-12 that incorporates data collected in 1995-2000.

Settings.

Random samples of private and public facilities from two regions of Quebec.

Participants.

Random samples of disabled residents aged 65 years and over. In total, 451 residents from 145 care settings assessed in 1995-2000 were compared with 329 residents from 102 care settings assessed in 2010-12.

Intervention.

Regulation introduced by the province in 2005, effective February 2007.

Main Outcome Measure.

Quality of care measured with the QUALCARE Scale.

Results.

After regulation, fewer small-size facilities were in operation in the private market. Between the two study periods, the proportion of residents with severe disabilities decreased in private facilities whereas it remained >80% in their public counterparts. Meanwhile, quality of care improved significantly in private facilities, while worsening in their public counterparts, even after controlling for confounding.

Conclusions.

The private industry now provides better care to its residents. Improvement in care quality likely results in part from the closure of small homes and change in resident case-mix.

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