A nursing home is a medical facility designed for patients who do not require hospital care, but who can not be cared for at home. Nursing homes have nurses and nurses’ aides available around the clock and provided rehabilitation services, such as speech, occupational, and physical therapy, to residents.
It’s important to note that the terms skilled nursing facility and nursing home are sometimes used interchangeably, but the two are not necessarily describing the same level of care. When the term “skilled nursing facility” is used, it’s often meant to describe a short-term stay. For example, residents typically stay at a skilled nursing facility after being released from the hospital so that they can continue to recover. Once they are well enough, patients can return home. When the term “nursing home” is used, it typically refers to a permanent residence for someone who cannot take care of their own medical and personal care needs.
Nursing home residents likely will receive much of their medical care from nurses, but also will have access to medical doctors. A nursing home should have a medical director who is a doctor and will likely employ doctors or bring in doctors contracted through another medical group.
Nursing homes vary in their layouts and design. Some are set up like a hospital, with a nurses’ station on each floor, and rooms that closely resemble what you would see in a hospital. Other nursing homes have more of a home-like design and offer amenities such as outdoor spaces and kitchens that are available to residents. Some nursing homes allow couples to live together.
Some nursing homes are designed to be memory care units, designed specifically for adults with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other cognitive disabilities. Not all nursing homes offer memory care services, though.