What is a Nursing Home?
Nursing homes are facilities that may also be referred to as skilled nursing facilities (SNF), long-term care facilities, old people's homes, care homes, rest homes, convalescent homes, or convalescent care. They serve people who do not need to be in a hospital but cannot be cared for at home or in assisted living. Where people who live in most senior living communities are referred to as "residents," it is customary to hear people living in nursing homes called "patients."
Many people consider "senior living" and "nursing home" to mean the same thing but "nursing home" is no longer the catch-all it used to be. Nursing home care is not usually the right choice for aging family members. It is suitable for people with palliative needs, people who need specialized support rehabilitative services, those who have chronic conditions, people who can no longer feed themselves, or people with progressive conditions like Parkinson's Disease or Multiple Sclerosis. Nursing homes are the right placement fit for seniors who require 24-hour monitoring and medical assistance.
The decision to find a nursing home usually happens following hospitalization or because care needs have become more challenging to meet in other housing types.
The critical difference between skilled nursing facilities and assisted living is the required medical attention and the length of stay. Nursing homes require a physician's prescription and a physical examination before accepting new residents. They offer the highest level of care for older adults outside of a hospital. A licensed physician supervises patient care, and other medical professionals are on-premises to provide 24-hour support.
What type of Care do Nursing Homes Provide?
Nursing homes provide intensive care for both medical and custodial needs; help with things like getting in and out of bed, and assistance with feeding, incontinence care, bathing, and dressing are available. Nursing homes differ from assisted living because they provide medical care and support activities of daily living or ADLs. They may be the right fit for people who bedridden, wheelchair-bound, or in need of daily skilled care.
Nursing homes in Maine also provide short-term rehabilitative stays. This care may be appropriate for people following surgery, illness, or injury. A nursing home stay generally follows a hospitalization when specific medical services are necessary for recovery. Skilled nursing facilities offer specialists like speech-language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, rehabilitation specialists, and audiologists. They provide bariatric care as well as tracheostomy and feeding support. Nursing homes may offer intensive memory care and dementia care services as well.
Nursing homes are unable to discharge patients without appropriate care in place. They work closely with Maine Care and The Maine Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program when advocacy supports are needed.