A nursing home or skilled nursing facility (SNF), also known as a rest home, is a type of care of residents: it is a place of residence for people who require constant nursing care and have significant deficiencies with activities of daily living. Residents include the elderly and younger adults with physical disabilities. Adults 18 or older can stay in a skilled nursing facility to receive physical, occupational, and other rehabilitative therapies following an accident or illness.
In the US, nursing homes are required to have a licensed nurse on duty 24 hours a day, and during at least one shift each day, one of those nurses must be a Registered Nurse. In April, 2005 there were a total of 16,094 nursing homes in the United States, down from 16,516 in December, 2002. Some states have nursing homes that are called nursing facilities (NF), which do not have beds certified for Medicare patients, but can only treat patients whose payments source is Private Payment, Private Insurance or Medicaid.
Services provided in nursing homes include services of nurses, nursing aides and assistants; physical, occupational and speech therapists; social workers and recreational assistants; and room and board. Most care in nursing facilities is provided by certified nursing assistants, not by skilled personnel. In 2004, there were, on average, 40 certified nursing assistants per 100 resident beds. The number of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses were significantly lower at 7 per 100 resident beds and 13 per 100 resident beds, respectively.(38)
Nursing facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs are subject to federal requirements regarding staffing and quality of care for residents (42 CFR Part 483). In 2004, 98.5% of the 16,100 nursing facilities nationwide were certified to participate in Medicare, Medicaid, or both.
Medicare covers nursing home services for beneficiaries who require skilled nursing care and/or rehabilitation services following a hospitalization of at least three consecutive days. The program does not cover nursing care if only custodial care is needed -- for example, when a person needs assistance with bathing, walking, or transferring from a bed to a chair. To be eligible for Medicare-covered skilled nursing facility (SNF) care, a physician must certify that the beneficiary needs daily skilled nursing care or other skilled rehabilitation services that are related to the hospitalization,(1) and that these services, as a practical matter, can be provided only on an inpatient basis. For example, a beneficiary released from the hospital after a stroke and in need of physical therapy, or a beneficiary in need of skilled nursing care for wound treatment following a surgical procedure, might be eligible for Medicare-covered SNF care.
SNF services may be offered in a free-standing or hospital-based facility. A freestanding facility is generally part of a nursing home that covers Medicare SNF services as well as long-term care(2) services for people who pay out-of-pocket, through Medicaid, and/or through a long-term care insurance policy. Generally, Medicare SNF patients make up just a small portion of the total resident population of a free-standing nursing home.
Medicaid also covers nursing home care for certain persons who require custodial care, meet a state's means-tested income and asset tests, and require the level-of-care offered in a nursing home. Nursing home residents have physical or cognitive impairments and require 24-hour care.
Many patients who live in nursing homes often begin paying out-of-pocket. Some deplete their resources on the often high cost of care. If eligible, Medicaid will cover continued stays in nursing home for these individuals.
Government regulations and oversight
All nursing homes in the United States that receive Medicare and/or Medicaid funding are subject to federal regulations. People who inspect nursing homes are called surveyors or, most commonly, state surveyors.
The Minimum Data Set (MDS) is part of the U.S. federally mandated process for clinical assessment of all residents in Medicare or Medicaid certified nursing homes. This process provides a comprehensive assessment of each resident's functional capabilities and helps nursing home staff identify health problems.
For United States homes, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has a website which allows users to see how well facilities perform in certain metrics (see Nursing Home Compare in the link below).
Care homes for adults in England are regulated by the Commission for Social Care Inspection.
Nursing homes are subject to federal regulations and also strict state regulations. The nursing home industry is considered one of the two most heavily regulated industries in the United States (the other being the nuclear power industry).
Current trends are to provide people with significant needs for long term supports and services with a variety of living arrangements. Indeed, research in the U.S as a result of the Real Choice Systems Change Grants, shows that many people are able to return to their own homes in the community. Private nursing agencies may be able to provide live-in nurses to stay and work with patients in their own homes.
When considering living arrangements for those who are unable to live by themselves, it is important to carefully look at many nursing homes and assisted living facilities as well as retirement homes, keeping in mind the person's abilities to take care of themselves independently. While certainly not a residential option, many families choose to have their elderly loved one spend several hours per day at an adult daycare center.
Beginning in 2002, Medicare began hosting an online resource known as Nursing Home Compare (see the "External Links" section at the bottom of the page). The program is intended to foster quality improving competition between nursing homes. Informed consumer choice has long been missing from decisions regarding the placement of the elderly in need.
Nursing homes are beginning to change the way they are managed and organized to create a more resident-centered environment, so they are more "home-like" and less "hospital-like." In these homes, nursing home units are replaced with a small set of rooms surrounding a common kitchen and living room. The staff giving care is assigned to one of these "households." Residents have far more choices about when they awake, when they eat and what they want to do during the day. They also have access to more companionship such as pets. Some organizations working toward these goals are the Pioneer Network, the Eden Alternative, and the Green House Project. Many of the facilities utilizing these models refer to such changes as the "Culture Shift" or "Culture Change" occurring in the LTC industry.
Quality of life
Resident oriented care is where nurses are assigned to particular patients and have the ability to develop relationships with individual patients. Patients are treated more as family, as opposed to random patients. Using resident-oriented care, nurses are able to become familiar with each patient and cater more to their specific needs, whether they be emotional or medical.
According to various findings residents who receive resident-oriented care experience a higher quality of life, in respect to attention and time spent with patients and the number of fault reports after the introduction of Primary Nursing. Although resident-oriented nursing does not lengthen life, nursing home residents are able to connect with someone, which allows them to dispel many feelings of loneliness and discontent.
"Resident assignment" refers to the extent to which residents are allocated to the same nurse. With this particular system one person is responsible for the entire admission period of the resident. However, this system can cause difficulties for the nurse or care-giver should one of the residents they are assigned to pass away or move to a different facility, as the nurse/caregiver may become attached to the resident(s) they are caring for.
In coming to this conclusion three guidelines must be assessed: structure, process and outcome. Structure is the assessment of the instrumentalities of care and their organization; Process being the quality of the way in which care is given; Outcome being usually specified in terms of health, well being, patient satisfaction, etc. Using these three criteria find that are strengthened when residents experience resident oriented care.
Communication is also heightened when residents feel comfortable discussing various issues with someone who is experienced with their particular case. In this particular situation nurses are also better able to do longitudinal follow up, which insures the implementation of more lasting results.
Various findings suggest that task-oriented care produces less satisfied residents. In many cases, residents are disoriented and unsure of who to disclose information to and as a result decide not to share information at all.
Patients usually complain of loneliness and feelings of displacement.
"Resident assignment" is allocated to numerous nurses as opposed to one person carrying the responsibility of one resident. Because the load on one nurse can become so great, various nurses are unable to identify with gradual emotional and physical changes experienced by one particular resident. Resident information has the ability to get misplaced or undocumented because of the numerous amounts of nurses that deal with one resident.
Task oriented care is where nurses are assigned specific tasks to perform for numerous residents on a specific ward. Residents in this particular situation are exposed to multiple nurses at any given time. Because of the random disbursement of tasks, nurses are declined the ability to develop more in depth relations with any particular resident.
- American Health Care Association
- American Geriatrics Society
- Companies operating nursing homes in the U.S.
- Illustrated History of Long Term Care.
- What is the difference between a Skilled Nursing Facility and Nursing Facility? — from the American College of Nurse Practioners.
- NH Regulations Plus — Page from University of Minnesota School of Public Health providing comprehensive detail (and comparisons) of individual state nursing facility regulations in the United States.
- Nursing Home Grades — Comprehensive government-sourced reports on nursing homes in all 50 states
- Nursing Home INFO — Nationwide directory of over 16,000 facilities
- uCan Health — Directory and discussion of over 20,000 nursing homes nationwide
- Nursing Home Compare — Medicare.gov page giving metrics of nursing home performance in the United States.
- Nursing Facility Survey & Regulations — Information from the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists.
- The Pioneer Network — "advocates and facilitates deep system change and transformation in our culture of aging."
- Eldercares.net — Information and resources for elder care concerns
- Taking Care of Old and Frail Parents
- Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform
- Aging Services of California
- Ohio Long-term Care Consumer Guide
- Caring to Help Others Manual — A training manual for preparing volunteers to assist caregivers of older adults
- Local Nursing Homes — Searchable directory of 16,100+ US nursing homes including staff qualifications, resident complaints and inspection results