Residential Nursing Homes

Residential nursing homes provide long-term skilled nursing care for seniors who have complex medical needs. These facilities provide a safe, monitored environment for residents who require 24-hour support with personal care, medication administration and management of declining mental and/or physical acuity.

Most of the people who live in residential nursing homes are females over the age of 75 who have significant mobility issues. These seniors often have other medical conditions that require daily management such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and neurological damage from a stroke or illness.

The number of seniors living in each residential nursing home varies significantly. Small facilities may have as few as 12 residents, while large, multi-wing homes may have upwards of 300 residents.

What to Expect From Residential Nursing Homes

As state-licensed facilities, residential nursing homes are inspected by government officials to make sure standards of care are being met. Most residential nursing homes offer private and semi-private wheelchair-accessible rooms for their residents, which are usually furnished with a hospital bed, a chest of drawers and an easy chair.

Depending on the facility, each room may have an adjoining bathroom equipped with safety bars and an emergency call bell. Seniors living in residential nursing homes can personalize their room with small personal items and photos.

Residential nursing homes are staffed by a team of nurses, nursing assistants, care aides and dietary aides. A registered nurse supervises medication administration and overseas the care and treatment of the residents. Nursing assistants and care aides provide help with personal hygiene such as bathing and grooming, while dietary aides prepare meals for the seniors.

Some residential nursing homes have recreation specialists who organize activities like card games and movie nights. Other staff team members may include specialists who help seniors who have behavior difficulties related to dementia, such as geriatric psychiatrists and therapists.

The Cost of Residential Nursing Homes

The daily cost of residential nursing home care varies based on location, service and type of room. According to the 2010 MetLife Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs, the national average rate for a private room is $229 per day or $83,585 annually.

Semi-private rooms in the U.S., where two seniors share one room, cost an average of $205 daily or $74,825 per year. Daily rates were the lowest in Louisiana and Texas, with Alaska having the highest average price of all the states.

Some health insurance providers cover part or all the cost of residential nursing homes. Other sources of funding can include Medicaid, veteran’s benefits and personal savings.

Medicare Coverage for Residential Nursing Homes

Medicare provides coverage for short-term stays in residential nursing homes, including recovery from a stroke, heart attack or other acute illness. Coverage for a short-term placement requires that the following five conditions exist:

  • The patient has Medicare Part A.
  • Skilled care by a nurse or therapist must be specifically prescribed by a medical doctor.
  • Only placements in facilities certified by Medicare are eligible for coverage.
  • The patient must have stayed in a hospital for at least three consecutive days in the 30 days immediately preceding nursing home placement.
  • The same condition that led to hospitalization must be the reason for the nursing home placement.

If approved, patients may be covered for up to 100 days of placement in residential nursing homes. Medicare will cover all costs in the first 20 days of the placement, with the patient responsible for co-payments from day 21 onwards.

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Written by senior housing staff writer.

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