Nursing homes provide services to residents who need skilled services but do not require hospitalization. Nursing homes often provide both short term rehabilitation stays for residents recovering from illness, surgery or accidents as well as long term care for seniors with more serious medical needs. Learn more about services provided by nursing homes
A nursing home is a place of residence for individuals who cannot adequately care for themselves yet do not require hospital-level care.(1) Skilled nursing facilities — also known as convalescent care facilities, long-term care facilities and congregate living health facilities — provide a standard of care that undoubtedly exceeds the government's definition.
Nursing homes vary in terms of cost, appearance, and services offered. Some nursing homes are state-funded, while others are privately operated. Short-term nursing care is offered for patients who recently underwent surgery, are recovering from an acute illness or injury, or who need rehabilitation services. Similarly, long-term nursing care is offered for individuals who live with a chronic illness, terminal condition or cognitive disorder. Typically, individuals with chronic illnesses will permanently remain in nursing homes, where they have immediate access to the level of care that they need.
A nursing home's appearance is often dependent on the type of care it offers. Nursing homes that provide medical care to recovering patients are designed to match the individual's needs. These homes may be set up like hospitals, with nursing stations on each floor and providing various types of therapy. Physical, occupational and speech therapy are services that are often included in these facilities. Facilities that cater to long-term residents have a homier atmosphere and are generally less restrictive in their day-to-day schedules. Residents are more than welcome to use kitchens and other facilities of the home. Additionally, staff members are highly encouraged to develop relationships with the residents.
Memory care facilities specifically house individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Although these homes typically house the elderly, memory care facilities are open to individuals of all ages. Many nursing facilities allow friends, relatives, and couples to share a room as well.
Before 1986, state law alone governed nursing homes. However, after the Institute of Medicine issued a report on the quality of nursing homes in the U.S., it was evident that many residents were dissatisfied with the quality of care that they received. States were doing a poor job of regulating long-term care facilities, which led to the Nursing Home Reform Act the following year.
Congress enacted the Nursing Home Reform Act in 1987. The Nursing Home Reform Act set new provisions for facilities that wish to participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs. This act raised the standards for care in the nursing home setting, tremendously. Today, both state and federal laws govern nursing home facilities.
Per the Nursing Home Reform Act, all convalescent care facilities must offer services and activities designed to help residents attain or maintain the highest practicable mental, physical and psycho-social well-being.(2) Prior to enrollment in a nursing facility, the resident must undergo an initial comprehensive assessment to determine their functional capacity. Subsequently, the facility must develop a care plan designed to ensure the resident's well being as well as providing opportunities for improvement. The care plan also includes methods geared towards preventing further deterioration of the resident's ability to dress, ambulate, bathe, groom, eat, toilet and communicate.
Each nursing facility will provide services that resonate differently for every resident. However, long-term care facilities must offer the following:
When searching for a nursing home for you or your loved one, you’ll discover that the services offered will vary greatly. However, some services are more standard than others. Those include the following:
If you or your loved one require more individualized care, consider a long-term care facility. Long-term care facilities provide more specialized services, such as the following:
There are several types of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) that offer more comprehensive care and treatment than others. Nursing home residents require more extensive care than residents of other types of CCRCs, such as assisted living facilities and residential care communities. Before you or your loved one make the transition, you first need to decide if a nursing home is a good fit.
Assisted living communities provide assistance with ADLs, limited supervision and some medical care. However, they do not provide skilled nursing care, 24-hour supervision or extensive medical care, as many nursing homes do(4). Similar to nursing homes, assisted living communities offer planned activities, laundry and housekeeping services, meals, transportation, exercise, and wellness programs.
Nursing homes and skilled nursing homes are not the same. Nursing homes generally provide more basic personal care services to long-term residents, while skilled nursing homes offer more extensive, rehabilitation services. The goal of a skilled nursing facility is to improve the resident's short-term condition until they can transition back into their own home.
Residential care homes cater to individuals who live in a residential setting rather than in their own home. Residential care homes usually offer more personalized services compared to an assisted living or nursing facility. However, like assisted living communities, these types of homes focus more on helping residents with their ADLs and enriching their lives than they do on medical care or rehabilitation.
You may be struggling with the decision to transfer you or your loved one to a nursing facility. However, if it’s something you are thinking about, the transition may be necessary. Signs that you or your loved one may be ready to move into a nursing home include but are not limited to the following:
Nursing homes provide such a high level of care, which results in a high monthly fee to match. In fact, the average monthly cost is double that of an assisted living facility. The average monthly fee for a semi-private room is $7,604, while the average for a private room is $8,517 However, it’s important to note that costs vary by region(5). For instance, Oklahoma boasts the lowest average, at $4,867 per month for a semi-private room and $5,627 for a private room. Alaska features the highest average, at $30,219 per month for both a semi-private and private room(6). To get a more accurate idea of what you can expect to pay for nursing home care for your aging loved one, use our Senior Living Cost Index(7).
When you realize that nursing home care is in your or your loved one’s near future, it is advised that you discuss financing as soon as possible. At A Place For Mom, our Senior Living Advisors are prepared to help you explore your options and choose the one that works for you:
Enrolling yourself or your loved one into a nursing home isn’t as simple as enrolling in an independent or assisted living community. Applying for a spot in a nursing home can be tricky. With the A Place For Mom’s checklist(14), you can ensure that you have everything in place to make the transition into a congregate living health facility:
To ensure the continued well being and safety of you or your loved one, you must take the time to find a quality facility. One of the best places to start is by asking your doctor for recommendations and by teaming up with one of A Place For Mom’s Senior Living Advisors.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, consider what is most important to you or your loved one. Is it physical therapy, nursing care, meals, a religious connection, special care units for dementia patients or hospice care? Identifying your needs will help you narrow down your list even further.
Take your list and call each place on it. Ask questions about the number of residents, cost, wait lists, etc. Plan to visit each facility and to meet with the director and nursing director. Be mindful of indicators of quality of care, such as handicap access, Medicare and Medicaid certification, warm interaction between staff and residents, and residents who look well-cared for. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Quality of Care
Quality of Life
The search for a suitable nursing home for you or your loved one can seem overwhelming at first. A Place For Mom Senior Living Advisors have helped hundreds of families through the process, and we’re excited for the opportunity to help you. A Place for Mom offers online resources, such as our directory, our database of reviews and ratings, and our personalized one-on-one advice. A Place for Mom will ensure that your search for a quality nursing home ends in success. Contact our team today to begin the process.
(1)Nursing Homes. (2019, July 25). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/nursinghomes.html.
(2)42 U.S. Code § 1395i–3 - Requirements for, and assuring quality of care in, skilled nursing facilities. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/1395i-3.
(3)Living Life To Its Fullest™: Occupational Therapy in Skilled Nursing Facilities. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aota.org/about-occupational-therapy/professionals/pa/articles/skilled-nursing-facilities.aspx.
(4)February 13, 2012. (2012, February 13). Search Tool for Caregivers Looking for Nearby Resources. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/basics/info-2017/senior-housing-options-tool.html?intcmp=AE-CAR-BAS-EOA3.
(5)Cost of Long Term Care by State: 2019 Cost of Care Report. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html.
(6)Genworth Cost of Care (2019, June). Retrieved from https://pro.genworth.com/riiproweb/productinfo/pdf/298701.pdf
(7)How Much Does Senior Living Cost in Your Area? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aplaceformom.com/planning-and-advice/senior-housing-101/senior-housing-costs/senior-living-cost-planner.
(8)SNF Care Coverage. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/skilled-nursing-facility-snf-care.
(9)PACE. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/get-help-paying-costs/pace.
(10)State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) - HealthCare.gov Glossary. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/state-health-insurance-assistance-program/.
(11)Veterans Benefits Administration, & Office and Policy and Program Management. (n.d.). Pension. Retrieved from https://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/aid_attendance_housebound.asp.
(12)Investopedia. (2019, October 21). How Can I Borrow Money From My Life Insurance Policy? Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/111314/how-can-i-borrow-money-my-life-insurance-policy.asp.
(13)What is Long-term Care Insurance? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://longtermcare.acl.gov/costs-how-to-pay/what-is-long-term-care-insurance/.
(14)Nursing Home Checklist. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aplaceformom.com/planning-and-advice/articles/nursing-home-checklist.