What is a nursing home?

A nursing home or skilled nursing facility (SNF) is a place of residence for people who require constant nursing care and have significant Activity of Daily Living (ADL) deficiencies. 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.

Similar facilities

What is a nursing home not? A hospital is not a residence, but is a place where people require constant nursing care. A retirement home is a residence, but requires non-constant nursing care. An assisted living facility does have some similarities to a nursing home; however, a nursing home's patients need more intensive care than residents in an assisted living facility. A long term care facility (LTCF) is a generic term for long-term residents requiring some form of assistance. LTCF is commonly used within a medical context.

People in nursing homes generally, but not always, live in double occupancy rooms. There is usually a nursing station in each hallway of a nursing home for the nurses (Licensed Practical Nurses, with a minority of Registered Nurses, generally in a supervisory role) who monitor resident health and administer medications. Nursing assistants (Health Care Assistants in the UK) play a key role maintaining residents' hygiene, assiting residents with activities of daily living, and performing other basic nursing skills. A housekeeping staff in a nursing home is responsible for ensuring that the rooms, beds, towels, bathrooms, and other facilities are kept sanitary. Physical therapists and occupational therapists attempt to help the residence regain certain abilities. Assistive technology such as wheelchairs, standing frames, and patient lifts are often used. Social workers help with personal issues such as billing and transitions back to the home environment.

New trends

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 sets 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.

(Wikipedia - shortened)