Nursing homes are residential health care facilities that provide nursing care and supervision twenty-four hours per day. In addition to skilled nursing services, physical, occupational, and speech therapy are usually offered. These therapies are designed to enable residents to recover and improve functional ability lost as a result of disease or injury. In addition, residents may receive social services and engage in recreational activities designed to improve physical and mental health. Residents also receive assistance with activities of daily living such as eating, dressing, walking, toileting, transferring between a bed and chair, and bathing. Typically, a nursing-home resident will need help in three or more of these activities of daily living.
Nursing homes form part of the continuum-of-care options available for persons with chronic or long-term health care needs. This continuum ranges from independent home care to care within intensive-care units of hospitals. Not all nursing homes are the same. Some nursing homes provide basic services, called "custodial services." Others, called "subacute" facilities provide highly skilled and technologically complex services that resemble medical units in hospitals. Many provide a mix of services.
LENGTH OF STAY
The average length of time that a person spends in a nursing home varies by the type of facility and the services rendered. For example, a person who resides in a nursing home in which he or she receives largely custodial services is likely to be there as long as several years. In fact, such a person will not usually return to an independent or community living environment. However, a person in a subacute facility is generally there only a matter of weeks. Such a person often receives intensive nursing or rehabilitation services and returns home or goes to an independent community environment.
Nursing-home residents generally have long-term health care needs that have resulted from one or more chronic illnesses, disabilities, or injuries. These conditions are rarely completely cured. Such conditions include, but are not limited to, strokes, fractured hips, arthritis, and mental confusion. These conditions often place a substantial burden on the health and economic status of individuals, affecting their quality of life and contributing to the decline of the person's overall ability to live independently.
MARIA R. SCHIMER, The Gale Group Inc., Macmillan Reference USA, New York,