Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are facilities that specialize in providing 24-hour medical care to older adults who can no longer take care of themselves. They provide services such as giving medication, help using the bathroom, eating, dressing and bathing. Many of the nursing home patients have difficulties in walking and need assistance from the nursing home staff.

The nursing home staff is made up of nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists and social workers; doctors are also on call. Nursing homes in the United States and other industrialized countries provide long-term and personal care for patients usually over the age of 65. With the need for more nursing homes, it is projected that the number of nurses will need to increase by 66 percent.

In the United States, nursing home facilities date back to the start of the 20th century. Without the support of the national government seniors were placed in almshouses and poor farms. The living conditions in these facilities were horrible.

Residents in a nursing home are described as a group falling in between: people who are not sick enough to be in a hospital but are not healthy enough to remain at home. There are some older people who are able to care for themselves right up until they die. However, many will have no choice but to be placed in a nursing home.

Residents for the most part are over 65 but there are some younger adults with mental and physical disabilities. The majority of nursing home residents are females.

The U.S. Congress created the Government Accountability Office (GAO) under the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921. Since that time it has conducted several studies on nursing homes. In 2006 2.8 million people lived in nursing homes, both short and long term. As the first of the "baby boomers" (people born between 1946 and 1964) turn 65, these numbers are expected to increase. Based on current statistics it is estimated that by 2030 five million people will need nursing home care.

Six percent of the nation's overall healthcare spending goes to nursing home care. Government spending reached a high of $125 billion in 2006 on nursing home care. Heath care providers and patients have shown an interest in the cost-efficiency of nursing home services. Because of the aging population, research has focused on nursing homes.

There is an increasing need for more nursing homes in the United States and around the world. Two population studies conducted in the United States and Great Britain show the following: From the beginning of the 20th century the average life expectancy increased from 47 years to over 70 years by the end of the century.

There has been a slower but steady growth in the number of older adults in Great Britain. Data shows that people aged 65 and over constituted 13.2 percent of the population in 1971, 15 percent in 1981, and 15.8 percent in 1993. The percentages have been projected to increase to 19.4 in 2021 and 24.6 in 2041. The 65-and-over age group has seen the most dramatic increase. In 1971 2.3 percent of the population was 80 and above. By 1993 it was 3.9 percent and the numbers are expected to rise to 9.2 percent by 2051.

The nursing home industry in general has a poor image. Efforts are being made to change the image with improvements and makeovers. The rejuvenation of the nursing home began in the 1980s, culminating with the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. The Good Samaritan Society, working to improve conditions and the image of nursing homes, brought a group of industry leaders together. They were successful in making positive changes for both staff and patients. They waged a campaign for nursing homes to start keeping track of their progress. The campaign is trying to sign up all of the 16,000 nursing homes in the United States.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Residential Care for the Elderly: Critical Issues in Public Policy
Sharon A. Baggette.
Greenwood Press, 1989
Care Homes for Older People
Judith Torrington.
E & FN Spon, 1996
Caring for Our Elders: Multicultural Experiences with Nursing Home Placement
Particia J. Kolb.
Columbia University Press, 2003
Geriatric Residential Care
Robert D. Hill; Brian L. Thorn; John Bowling; Anthony Morrison.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002
Captive Populations: Caring for the Young, the Sick, the Imprisoned, and the Elderly
Jennie Jacobs Kronenfeld; Marcia Lynn Whicker.
Praeger Publishers, 1990
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Elderly, Long-Term Care, and Home-Based Services"
Strategies for Therapy with the Elderly: Living with Hope and Meaning
Claire M. Brody; Vicki G. Semel.
Springer, 2006 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Part II "Nursing Homes"
Home and Identity in Late Life International Perspectives
Graham D. Rowles; Habib Chaudhury.
Springer, 2005
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "The Image of Nursing Homes and Its Impact on the Meaning of Home for Elders"
Nursing Home Ethics: Everyday Issues Affecting Residents with Dementia
Bethel Ann Powers.
Springer, 2003
Enhancing Relationships in Nursing Homes through Empowerment. (Practice Update)
Ingersoll-Dayton, Berit; Schroepfer, Tracy; Pryce, Julia; Waarala, Carol.
Social Work, Vol. 48, No. 3, July 2003
Characterizing Organizational Spirituality: An Organizational Communication Culture Approach
Sass, James S.
Communication Studies, Vol. 51, No. 3, Fall 2000
Institutional Abuse: Perspectives across the Life Course
Nicky Stanley; Jill Manthorpe; Bridget Penhale.
Routledge, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "The Abuse of Older People in Institutional Settings: An Overview"
One Last Pleasure? Alcohol Use among Elderly People in Nursing Homes
Klein, Waldo C.; Jess, Carol.
Health and Social Work, Vol. 27, No. 3, August 2002
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