Nursing Homes

What is a Nursing Home?

A Nursing Home (NH) is a facility that provides 24 hour 7 day a week medical care and supervision.

A Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) provides skilled nursing (examples: wound care, pain management, or bowel/bladder training),  and physical, occupational or speech therapy services. A SNF may also be referred to as a sub-acute rehab.


The MetLife Mature Market Institute found that the 2012 daily cost of a semi-private room (aka shared) ranges from a low of $147 in a small area of Oklahoma to a high of $682 in Alaska. The nationwide average is $222 per day. A private room will cost more.

Most people can’t afford to pay privately for nursing home care. Medicare may cover up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility you have met very specific Medicare eligibility guidelines. Medicare does NOT cover ongoing long term Nursing Home care. You may require additional care after your Medicare coverage ends. You may choose to pay the nursing home privately, use long term care insurance or apply for state Medicaid.

Next Steps Visiting a Nursing Home

  • Find a few nursing homes near you or your family & friends
  • Medicare rates nursing homes on a 1 (below average) to 5 (above average) star scale
  • Schedule a visit to tour the facility and eat a meal
  • Use the Medicare Nursing Home Checklist
  • Talk with the Staff, Residents and Families
  • Eat a meal
  • Use your 6 senses
    • What do you see? Is it clean, do residents appear well cared for, is it a decor you like, are staff easily identifiable & available
    • What do you hear? Are staff polite to each other, how do they address residents, are there call lights ringing unanswered, are residents yelling for assistance
    • What do you smell? Do you smell body odors, or a port-a-potty on a hot summer day, staff perfume/cologne, strong cleaning chemicals-bleach/ammonia/air fresheners,
    • What do you feel? Is the floor tacky, are salt & pepper shakers sticky, handrails smooth and in reach
    • What do you taste? Is the food good, does the menu have variety and appealing alternatives
    • What does your gut tell you? would you fit in with other residents, do you like the overall environment
  • Make an unscheduled visit at another time such as an evening or weekend

4 Important Things You Must Know About Living in a  Nursing Home

1)  Under Federal and state law you retain ALL of the same Rights that you enjoy in the community.

  • Some of your rights are:
    • You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
    • You have the right to privacy.
    • You have a right to handle your own money.
    • You have the right to be free from abuse & neglect.
    • You have the right to complain without fear of retaliation.
    • You have the right to receive a 30 day notice in writing of intent to discharge.
    • For additional Residents Rights information click here.

2) Medicaid determines how much money Medicaid recipients get to keep for their personal needs allowance. It is not that the nursing home “wants to take all of your money”. Nursing home care is very expensive.

3) Long Term Care Ombudsman are advocates and mediators for residents in all long term care facilities.

  • Long Term Care Ombudsman services are free.
  • Residents, family, friends, visitors or facility staff may contact the Long Term Care Ombudsman for help.
  • To locate your Long Term Care Ombudsman click here.

4) Suspicion of Abuse (physical, sexual, financial exploitation and property theft) should be reported to the police and to the state Adult Protective Services click here to locate.

Why Should I Care?

 In 2014 there were 1.4 million nursing home residents.

You may one day live in a nursing home.

Being more informed allows you the opportunity to expect and receive the highest quality of care.