As the population ages, more and more of us are faced with the prospect of moving either ourselves or an older family member into a nursing home. It may be a decision that arrives suddenly after a recent hospitalization or you may have gradually noticed more and more needs becoming difficult to manage in other types of housing. The decision can be a stressful one for both the older adult and their family. Additionally, there are many misconceptions about nursing homes. It’s important to learn all you can about how nursing homes work, when a nursing home is the best option, and how to find the nursing home that is best for you or a loved one.
What is a Nursing Home (Skilled Nursing Facility)?
A nursing home is normally the highest level of care for older adults outside of a hospital. Nursing homes provide what is called custodial care, including getting in and out of bed, and providing assistance with feeding, bathing and dressing. However, nursing homes differ from other senior housing facilities in that they also provide a high level of medical care. A licensed physician supervises each patient’s care and a nurse or other medical professional is almost always on the premises. Skilled nursing care is available on site, usually 24 hours a day. Other medical professionals such as occupational or physical therapists are also available. This allows the delivery of medical procedures and therapies on site that would not be possible in other housing.
The label “nursing home” has negative connotations for many people. Yet nursing homes provide an important component of senior housing options. It’s important to separate nursing home myth from fact.
Living arrangements in a nursing home
The ambience and layout varies from nursing home to nursing home. For example, some rooms may be private and others shared. Rooms may have their own bathroom, or they may need to be shared with others. Some meals may be provided in the room, while others may be in a centralized dining area.
While nursing homes have traditionally been set up in a medically-oriented design, with ease of patient care being the primary goal, some homes are now moving to a newer design model. This features smaller communities of 10 to 30 people within a home, private kitchens, communal areas and continuity of staff.