worker changing laundry

A confluence of increasing 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 long-term care 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 long-term care 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 that 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 consistently have been declining year after year, as much as 5% from 2018 to 2019. During the same time, the national average hourly wage for laundry staff consistently has been increasing. Meanwhile, regulatory and liability arguments against on-premise laundries are mounting.

With their economies of scale, outsourced laundries say they spend 34% to 40% less per pound on the most costly items in on-premise laundry production budgets: plant labor wages, employee benefits and natural gas. Those account for 60% of all on-premise laundry production expenses. Examples culled from a cost estimator tool at show that a 50-bed nursing home in California with a 90% occupancy rate would save $35,714 a year by outsourcing, whereas the same facility in Illinois would save $28,138.