Nursing Homes

by John Philip Green

Nursing Homes are often called Skilled Nursing Facilities.

These offer the highest level of medical care outside of a hospital, with a doctor overseeing each resident’s care, and a medical professional is always on site. Other allied health care professionals such as Occupational or Physical Therapists are part of the team.


Nursing homes are regulated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. Most states also have their own regulations and laws.

The Statistics

  • Nursing homes in the US 16,000 
  • Total number of beds 1.7 million
  •  Average occupancy rate 86 percent 
  • Average length of time since admission 835 days

Facilities are not all created equally

  • Rooms may be shared
  • Residents may or may not have their own bathroom
  • Meals may be delivered in the room, or may be taken in a centralized dining area

Consider asking about

  • Levels of staffing on weekdays, weekends and evenings
  • How your elder’s specific health condition would be managed
  • Who coordinates administration of medications and procedures
  • How emergencies, such as accidents and falls, are handled
  • The staff / resident ratio

Ask about residents and family rights including:

  • Access to medical information that’s accurate and evidence-based
  • Consultation towards making informed choices
  • Policy for privacy and confidentiality
  • Resident has the right to be transferred or discharged
  • How to file concerns and complaint.

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