For the first time in six years, skilled nursing occupancy failed to increase between the fourth and first quarters as the numbers continued their grim march downward.
Occupancy fell to 81.6% in the first quarter of 2018, according to the most recent data release from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC). That translates to a drop of 30 basis points from the prior quarter, and 210 basis points from the same time in 2017, according to Skilled Nursing News.
The decline bucks a time-honored trend of occupancy boosts as the calendar turns and skilled nursing operators begin filling more beds due to seasonal spikes in the flu and other illnesses.
That trend still occurred during the first three months of the year — Medicare and managed Medicare mix increased by 56 and 54 basis points, respectively — but length-of-stay pressures and admission issues worked to counteract the predictable occupancy bump.
“Because the decline did not occur in skilled mix, seasonality is still likely influencing skilled nursing occupancy and patient day mix,” NIC senior principal Bill Kauffman said in the group’s report. “Other factors, such as shorter lengths of stay, may be driving the overall occupancy decline.”
SNFs continued to see greater penetration of managed Medicare plans — such as Medicare Advantage — in the first quarter, with revenue hitting a cycle high in February. That trend was true across rural and urban areas, even though rural SNFs typically see significantly fewer managed Medicare residents than their counterparts in cities.
Read the full story at Skilled Nursing News.