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What to Look for With Nursing Home Beds

Written by NHAbuseGuide on August 2, 2015


What to Look for With Nursing Home Beds

Reading the title above might confuse you. It is not a suggestion to explore the features of the actual bed in a nursing home – though you will want to be sure that the beds available are of the utmost comfort, quality and suitability. What that title means is that you need to consider such issues as:

  • The ratio of healthcare providers to beds/patients
  • The ratio of Medicare to Medicaid beds
  • The total number of beds
  • The number of beds available to men vs. women

Why are there so many points to consider? The most significant reason to know what to look for with nursing home beds is simple: You must be sure that you have selected a facility that can give you the kind of quality care you desire, and within your price range.

The Providers

Recent amendments to the star-rating system for the Medicare “Nursing Home Compare” reports demonstrated that the government would prefer nursing homes to hire and staff according to acuity rather than flat numbers. In other words, to deliver the quality of care required, nursing homes should not be hiring “x number of nurses” per bed but a specific number of nurses as the conditions of the patients require.

After all, if a facility has twenty patients to one nurse, but each patient requires a high level of care, it may not be possible for the nurse to provide the care needed. Though the ratios available, the American Nurses Association has taken steps to force congress to give them some authority in the manner. Asking that staffing levels be flexible and account for patient’s needs, admissions, and more, their updated approach would ensure nursing homes also have appropriate staffing.

Federal guidelines in the Affordable Care Act are also driving hospitals and nursing homes to use acuity rather than standard percentages and ratios to ensure the right staffing.

For now, you should know how many beds a facility has, how many staff on each shift, and what that means for your care. You should also explore any nursing home’s general ratings and staffing details through the Nursing Home Compare website at Medicare.gov.

The Medicare and Medicaid Issue

Though some facilities are Medicaid certified, they may not make all beds available for Medicaid patients. The patient who enters on their Medicare days, and who assumes that the bed will then become a Medicaid bed when the Medicare ends may get caught paying a lot of money to remain in the facility.

There are many stories of patients in need of specialized care, and anticipating that the facility that is Medicaid approved will have the bed needed. However, the dual certification of many sites may make it unclear whether you must be put on a waiting list and pay privately or your Medicaid will pay for your bed.

This is all very confusing, but the key is to discuss the Medicaid issue with the facility beforehand and be clear about the status of your Medicaid-certified bed.

Total Numbers

You also want to be clear about the total numbers of beds in general. Though statistics are unclear about the level of quality based on size, simply knowing if you would prefer a smaller facility or one with hundreds of patients will make a difference.

You also want to check on the number of men’s beds available. A 2012 article in the New York Times indicated that there are fewer beds for men than ever before, with around 80% of the beds reserved for women.

There are many factors to consider where beds are concerned, and if you have specific concerns, you may want to discuss elder law with a qualified attorney to help with benefits.


Chron.com. Elder Law… http://www.chron.com/homes/senior_living/article/Elder-Law-Moving-to-a-nursing-home-Ask-about-5898414.php

NursingWorld.com. Nurse Staffing. http://www.nursingworld.org/nursestaffing


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