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Racial Disparities in Nursing Home Care

Research has uncovered racial disparities in nursing home care, possibly due to unconscious bias, systemic issues, and other circumstances. These inequalities present a serious public health problem that deserves attention.

“The consensus from the existing literature is that minority [residents] do not receive nursing home care of comparable quality to white [residents].”
— National Institutes of Health (NIH)

For example, racial disparities lead to higher rates of nursing home abuse and neglect among nonwhite residents. Knowing how to spot issues is the best way to keep your loved one safe.

If your loved one was harmed in a nursing home, we may be able to connect you with our trusted legal partners, who are dedicated to ensuring justice for all victims. Get started with a free case review now.

Race as a Factor in Nursing Home Care

Various studies suggest that nursing home residents of color do not always receive the same level of care as white residents.

For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) analyzed data from nursing home residents in seven states over four years. The study included facts and statistics from more than 1,500 nursing homes.

Researchers examined how nursing homes handled 4 different elements of care:

  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Catheters
  • Feeding tubes
  • Physical restraints

The study found that 15.9% of Black residents used feeding tubes, a sharp increase compared to 5.7% for white residents. This high rate of feeding tube use for this demographic is worrisome as it can lead to severe complications like aspiration, infection, and pneumonia.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the poor infection control measures and cleanliness standards, particularly at nursing homes serving minority groups, which put Black residents at even greater risk of infection.

In another NIH report, minority nursing home residents showed less social engagement than white residents. This study found that nonwhite residents were up to 40% less likely to be socially engaged, possibly increasing their risk of nursing home neglect.

Additionally, older African American residents with cancer are 63% more likely to be left untreated for pain.

Are Minorities at Higher Risk for Nursing Home Abuse?

Yes, Black residents and other minorities in nursing homes may be at higher risk of abuse and neglect, according to the NIH.

Additionally, older Black Americans may be twice as likely to suffer from psychological or emotional abuse compared to other demographics, according to a report published in The Gerontologist. Nursing home residents of color are also five times more likely to be victims of financial exploitation.

Other types of nursing home abuse that minorities are at risk of include:

  • Abandonment
  • Neglect of a resident’s basic needs
  • Physical abuse
  • Self-neglect
  • Sexual assault

All of these issues can lead to more serious consequences, like wrongful death.

If you believe your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect, do not delay. Get a free and confidential case review.

Ways to Address Racial Disparities in Nursing Home Care

No matter the reasons for these inequalities, action must be taken to address racial disparities in nursing home care.

Ways to reduce the disparities in care for nonwhite residents include:

  • Engaging with local religious and community organizations so every resident feels their culture and background is acknowledged and valued
  • Enhancing training for staff on unconscious bias and cultural competency
  • Proactively checking in with Black and minority residents to see if their needs are being met
  • Recruiting diverse staff to foster trust and understanding between residents and staff

These are just a few ways nursing home facilities and family members can help all residents feel they are getting the quality of care they deserve.

Get Help With Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing homes are supposed to provide high-quality care for all of their residents — regardless of race or background. Tragically, nursing homes may betray the trust of residents and their loved ones through abuse and neglect.

This mistreatment can cause residents to suffer emotionally, physically, and financially. Therefore, paying close attention to the care your loved one receives is critical. If you notice warning signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, do not delay.

Contact 911 if your loved one is in immediate danger. You can also contact a nursing home ombudsman (who advocates for residents’ rights) and file a complaint with them.

If you would like to pursue justice and compensation for the harm your loved one suffered through a nursing home abuse lawsuit, get a free case review right now.

Nursing Home Abuse Support Team
Julie Rivers HeadshotReviewed by:Julie Rivers, MBA

Eldercare Advocate & Expert

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Julie Rivers is an eldercare advocate with over 15 years of dedicated service to victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. Her journey in this field became deeply personal when she assumed the role of an unpaid caregiver during her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Nursing Home Abuse Center (NHAC) was founded to bring justice to those affected by nursing home and elder abuse. Our mission is to educate and empower victims of abuse and their families to take a stand against this unlawful mistreatment. We work to return dignity back to those who have been broken down by nursing home abuse and neglect.

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  3. Grabowski, D., & McGuire, T. Black-white disparities in care in nursing homes. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
  4. Hawes, C. Elder abuse in residential long-term care settings: What is known and what information is needed? Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
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  6. Li, Y., & Cai, X. (2014, April). Racial and ethnic disparities in social engagement among us nursing home residents. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from DOI: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000088
  7. Taylor, J. (2020, July 17). Even in nursing homes, COVID-19 racial disparities persist. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from