Putting the 'Home' in Nursing Home

You call it the “new nursing home.” Is this a movement? 

It’s a movement because people want it. First of all, all of us want a good life for our elders and we’re frustrated by the old nursing home way. We don’t want that. Every CNA and every nurse and every cook and every housekeeper in this country, every activities person, every social worker in this country who works in a traditional nursing home doesn’t want it for the residents they serve. They would so much rather have a good way for them to live. So you got that going for you. That’s the movement part of it. Then you’ve got the market.

Anybody who’s got a household model in their market area knows the pressure of having a decent place to showcase, to attract people to come to your home. Thirdly, you’ve got the customer. People my age, and 10 years older than me for that matter are not wanting the old way. They want to have a say in their life, they want to continue to contribute and give to others, they want to have a good daily life and when they look at this, and they’re much more consumer savvy, they’re not going to put up with the old way.

Is this a long-term solution?

More and more people are able to stay in their assisted-living environments. That goes for residential care as well. Residential care is a lesser life than assisted living and people are able to stay there and home care keeping people at home. So, really and truthfully, whether or not in the future there are licensed nursing homes or not, there will be some kind of homey household model of community living. That allows [residents] the quality of life of home, that gives them freedom and independence and being in charge of their own life and yet has services that they need. So that’s going to be the ideal world for the future. We’ll never go back to institutionalized, long hallways filled with tons of people and warehousing people again, that’s done.  

Who doesn't this model work for?

I can’t think of a population that this concept does not work for. You use a smaller configuration which allows more interpersonal relationships with the residents to tend to them individually whether they’re severely disabled physically, whether they’re mentally ill, have severe memory loss, severe dementia.

People say “Well what about someone who is really sick, it won’t work for them, will it?” Well, of course it will. If I’m in bed all day I’d much rather live in a homey little space where someone could wheel my bed up to the door or help me into a lounge chair and help me into the living room area and I could just be there, whether I could talk, whether I could even be sure of where I’m at, just being around the clatter of dishes in the kitchen, and the smell of coffee pouring or bread baking, of genuine laughter in the other room. If I’m really, really sick I’m going to love it so much better. The best place to die would be at home, and this is as close to home as possible.


This post appears courtesy of Kaiser Health News (KHN), a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Marissa Evans is a reporter for Kaiser Health News.

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