In speaking with patients I’ve treated in the hospital, and the public at
large, it seems the general consensus on what a nursing home is follows as such: a place for people, usually in their older age, who are no longer able to safely take care of themselves independently or with assistance from family or friends while living at home. While this consensus isn’t wrong, it is incomplete. Yes, nursing homes house and take care of people at the stage of life where the above is true, but they are also the temporary residence of people in need of therapies intended to allow them to return home and live as independently and safely as they did before certain life events.
Today, most patients in a nursing home fall into one of two categories: skilled nursing or long-term care. Long-term care consists of people who are no longer able, with or without some degree of human assistance, to safely care for themselves in their own home, i.e. bathing, cooking, cleaning, and dressing and so on. For this population, to continue living at home presents with an increased risk of injury, sometimes life-threatening, while performing the daily activities necessary to life. A specific example of the above-mentioned injuries is a fall in the home that results in a head injury or broken bone. Long-term care greatly mitigates that risk. While in long-term care individuals receive care which includes providing cooked meals, transportation to doctor’s appointments, assistance for any activity of daily living such as dressing, and help with taking prescribed medications. These and other services are provided by paid, trained staff. As the name implies, long-term care is for an indefinite period of time.
The second category, skilled nursing, is the lesser-known about patient population within the nursing home. Such patients are often referred to, not addressed as, “skilled patients” by health care providers. This group, in my experience, has an average projected stay of 20 days. It is not uncommon for some patients to require less than a 20-day stay. A skilled nursing patient is usually 65 years of age or older and has needed hospital care for at least 3 days due to illness, injury, and/or surgery and requires therapy to regain strength and function so they may return home. Therapy is needed in these cases so the patient can live as independently as they did before their hospital stay. These patients receive at least 5 days of therapy a week for as much as 90, or more, minutes a day. It’s not an oversimplification to say the objective for therapists
working with skilled patients is to facilitate the patient’s return home, to live as independently and safely as they did before, in as few days as is necessary. As a therapist, I enjoy seeing my patients return home.
I’ve written the above explanation of what a nursing home is from memory. A memory formed from addressing multiple patient’s expressed concerns after their doctor shared his or her medical opinion that the patient would need further therapy, aside from that received in the hospital, before returning home. The patient’s concern was never over “further therapy”, but was always over the location in which the therapy would take place: a nursing home. It’s my hope this article can help alleviate, to some degree, your or your loved one’s concern should you or they find themselves in such a situation where the overriding thought is “My doctor wants to put me in a nursing home!” Nursing homes served by NEO Orthopedics and Rehabilitation
Commerce: Eastwood Manor
Miami: Windridge Nursing and Rehabilitation
Vinita: Heartsworth Nursing and Rehabilitation
Fairland: Family Care Center of Fairland
Nowata: Osage Nursing Home
Quapaw: Higher Call Nursing Center