At the House Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Simsbury, 17 of the nursing home’s 73 beds sat vacant last spring, a 23% opening rate that would have been unlikely five years ago. The home’s occupancy has decreased despite its above-average medical care quality ratings in the government national rating system. “There are a lot of aspects, a lot of projects out there now to keep people out of nursing homes,” said Keith Brown, the home’s manager. “And with the increase in home care, we’re seeing a weaker citizen population. So we have fewer citizens with greater skill.” The Simsbury home is not unique: Nearly one-third of Connecticut’s nursing homes are less than 90 % filled.
Of the 68 homes with higher-than-average opening prices, 20 were only 60-80% filled, leaving hundreds of beds unused. State-wide, even though 15 nursing homes have closed since 2008, at least 2,450 beds were vacant as of May. The state information show that occupancy prices decreased in all but two areas since 2004, falling from 96% to 88% in Tolland; 95 to 88% in Litchfield; 95 to 91% in New Haven; 93 to 90% in Hartford; 95 to 92% in Middlesex; and 97 to 93% in Windham. The exclusions were Fairfield County, where the occupancy rate stayed at about 92% and New London, where it increased from 88% to 92%.
Overall, Connecticut’s nursing home occupancy rate has tumbled in the past years, from 93.3% in 2003, the third maximum in the nation, to 89.8%, the Tenth maximum, according to March government information. The latest state Department of Social Services nursing home demographics put the statewide occupancy amount at just above 90%. Only 11 of the 230 certified nursing homes in the state were full to capacity as of last spring. Nursing home directors say the opening rate has been motivated by a number of aspects, including state projects to keep more seniors and impaired citizens in home and community configurations, as well as the ballooning assisted-living industry, generally controlled in Connecticut.