January 4, 2012; New York Times | NPQ has written often about research that compares nonprofit to for-profit nursing homes. Now, a recent study in “The Gerontologist” has revealed that registered nurses in nonprofit nursing homes are more satisfied with their jobs than staff in profit-making homes. This has less to do with tax status, apparently, than it does with the existence of “a supportive practice environment.” The study, which was based on a survey of nearly 900 registered nurses working in almost 300 skilled nursing facilities in New Jersey, indicates that the components of that practice environment that seem to be of consequence are participation in facility affairs, a supportive manager, and resource adequacy. And while these characteristics can exist, of course, in either a for-profit or nonprofit facility, they appear to be more common in the nonprofits among those nursing homes studied.

These findings align with a previous study indicating that certified nursing assistants were happier at nonprofits and less prone to leave than at for profit nursing homes. Since these assistants provide most of the hands-on care, the findings may go some way toward explaining the better overall-care marks received by nonprofit nursing facilities.—Ruth McCambridge