Outsourcing movement grows in skilled nursing laundries

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Costs, lack of staff, infection control and other types of regulatory pressures are contributing to the decline of on-premise operations

A confluence of rising workforce wage pressures and attrition, along with rising inflationary and infection control concerns, could cap a decades-long trend toward outsourcing laundry processing services among skilled nursing facilities.

Joe Ricci, CEO and president of TRSA, the national association representing companies that supply, launder and maintain linens and uniforms, says increasing regulatory compliance pressure on skilled nursing facilities will continue to drive up the cost of their operations.

“Outsourcing to commercial laundries will yield cost savings that can be used to offset these rising costs” in areas such as recruitment and hiring operations, Ricci said. He also predicted finding the workers to meet new staffing and regulatory requirements will be very difficult in a labor market growing more challenging by the day. 

Nursing homes have been experiencing these trends for years now, according to a recent report from the accounting and advisory firm Marcum.

“Laundry statistics suggest outsourcing of laundry services is very common in the hospital environment, and we are now beginning to see this slow shift in the long-term care arena as well,” Marcum noted. “We expect to see this increasing movement to continue in the years to come.”

Laundry hours per patient day have been consistently declining year after year, as much as 5% from 2018 to 2019. During the same time, the national average hourly wage for laundry staff has been consistently increasing. Meanwhile, regulatory and liability arguments against on-premise laundries (OPLs) are mounting.

With their economies of scale, outsourced laundries say they spend 34% to 40% less per pound on the most costly items in OPL laundry production budgets: plant labor wages, employee benefits and natural gas. These account for 60% of all OPL laundry production expenses.

Examples culled from a cost estimator tool at trsa.org/oplsavings show a 50-bed nursing home in California with a 90% occupancy rate would save $35,714 a year by outsourcing, while the same facility in Illinois would save $28,138.

From the July/August 2022 Issue of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News

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