Measuring the Quality of Nursing Home Care

Nursing homes provide less intensive services than hospitals for a range of patients. Some nursing homes care only for short-stay patients, others only for long-stay patients, but most care for both kinds of patients.

  • Short-stay patients. Some patients stay in a nursing home for a few weeks only, typically to receive care after a hospitalization; they are commonly referred to as "short-stay" patients. Medicare benefits cover nursing home care only after a hospitalization and for a limited period of time. In addition, patients must need "skilled" care from nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other professionals, as well as support in carrying out activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, and walking.
  • Long-stay patients. Many nursing home patients stay much longer, often until they die. These "long-stay" patients may get some skilled care, but the bulk of their care involves helping them deal with activities of daily living. The primary payer for these long-stay patients is Medicaid programs; costs are also often borne by nursing home residents or their families.

While some measures are relevant to both short- and long-stay nursing home residents, others are specific to only one population. When selecting measures of nursing home quality, keep in mind that for residents, especially long-stay residents, the nursing home is their home as well as a place for them to get care. Therefore, the quality of their daily life is an important aspect of quality.

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Also in "Measures of Quality in Nursing Homes, Home Health Agencies, and Hospice"

Page last reviewed May 2019
Page originally created February 2015
Internet Citation: Measuring the Quality of Nursing Home Care. Content last reviewed May 2019. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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