A nursing home, skilled nursing facility (SNF), or skilled nursing unit (SNU), 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 United States, 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.
Nursing facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs are subject to federal requirements regarding staffing and quality of care for residents. 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 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, 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 services for people who pay out-of-pocket, through Medicaid, 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.
Almost no one can afford to pay for nursing home care "out of pocket." They cost $5,000 per month or more. Some deplete their resources on the often high cost of care. If eligible, Medicaid will cover continued stays in nursing home for these individuals. However, they require that the patient be "spent down" to poverty levels first, thus depleting their life savings.
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 Tool" in the external link section below). CMS also publishes a list of Special Focus Facilities - nursing homes with "a history of serious quality issues. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO), however, has found that state nursing home inspections understate the number of serious nursing home problems that present a danger to residents. The GAO concluded that while CMS oversight has improved, there are still weaknesses in its oversight of nursing homes. A report issued in September of 2008 found that over 90% of nursing homes were cited for federal health or safety violations in 2007, with about 17% of nursing homes having deficiencies causing "actual harm or immediate jeopardy" to patients.
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, potential customers consider it to be 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 comparison site intended to foster quality improving competition between nursing homes.
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. Many of the facilities utilizing these models refer to such changes as the "Culture Shift" or "Culture Change" occurring in the LTC industry.
"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.
In the United Kingdom, you have the right to choose your care home. Care homes and care homes with nursing are regulated by different organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
To enter a care home, you need an assessment of needs and of your financial condition from your local council. You may also have an assessment by a nurse, should you require nursing care.
The cost of a care home is means tested in England.
As of February 2008 in England, the lower income limit is £13,000. At this income level, all your income from pensions, savings, benefits and other sources, except a "personal expenses allowance" (currently £20.45), will go to paying the care home fees. The local council pays the remaining contribution. Between the lower limit and the upper income limit, the personal expenses allowance is reduced by £1/week for every £250 higher income you have. If you earn more than the upper level, currently £21,500, you will have to pay the full cost of the care home yourself. If you require additional nursing care, you can get assessed for this and get additional financial support through the National Health Service (NHS).
Care homes for adults in England are regulated by the Commission for Social Care Inspection, and they are inspected at least every three years. In Wales the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales has responsibility for oversight, In Scotland the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care and in Northern Ireland the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority in Northern Ireland.
Another growing trend in the Nursing Home Industry is the increasing number of for-profit institutions which are going into business in order to reap profits from the soon-to-retire "baby boomer" generation. These institutions can often provide adequate care, but the quality of care compared to that found at non-profit institutions has not yet been adequately studied.