Does size matter in aged care facilities? A literature review of the relationship between the number of facility beds and quality

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Health Care Management Review, 2017, 42 (4), pp. 315 - 327
Issue Date:
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© 2017 The Authors. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Background: Theory suggests that structural factors such as aged care facility size (bed numbers) will influence service quality. There have been no recent published studies in support of this theory, and consequently, the available literature has not been useful in assisting decision makers with investment decisions on facility size. Purpose: The study aimed to address that deficit by reviewing the international literature on the relationships between the size of residential aged care facilities, measured by number of beds, and service quality. Methods: A systematic review identified 30 studies that reported a relationship between facility size and quality and provided sufficient details to enable comparison. There are three groups of studies based on measurement of quality - those measuring only resident outcomes, those measuring care and resident outcomes using composite tools, and those focused on regulatory compliance. Findings: The overall findings support the posited theory to a large extent, that size is a factor in quality and smaller facilities yield the most favorable results. Studies using multiple indicators of service quality produced more consistent results in favor of smaller facilities, as did most studies of regulatory compliance. Discussion: The theory that aged care facility size (bed numbers) will influence service quality was supported by 26 of the 30 studies reviewed. Practice Implications: The review findings indicate that aged care facility size (number of beds) may be one important factor related to service quality. Smaller facilities are more likely to result in higher quality and better outcomes for residents than larger facilities. This has implications for those who make investment decisions concerning aged care facilities. The findings also raise implications for funders and policy makers to ensure that regulations and policies do not encourage the building of facilities inconsistent with these findings.
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