Nursing homes are residential care facilities that cater to the medical needs of their patients. These facilities are a midway point for those that have medical conditions severe enough that they need nursing expertise but whose conditions are stable enough that they do not require hospitalization. They are staffed by teams that include nurses, nurses' aides, housekeeping, physical and occupational therapists, and social workers. The team works to provide medical care and supervision, hygienic assistance, rehabilitation of physical and occupational tasks, and assistance with personal issues.
In general, a nursing home is equipped with much of the same medical equipment found in hospitals. Treatments for conditions such as pulmonary and respiratory diseases, dialysis, and cancer are provided in this environment. In fact, most are able to provide care that was once only available in a sterile institution like a hospital. The ideal nursing facility offers a home like atmosphere that is as comfortable, informal, and pleasant as possible.
Nursing homes provide both long-term and short-term care, as well as inpatient and outpatient treatment. Because caring for loved ones is often strenuous and emotionally challenging, these facilities often offer respite programs where the patient stays temporarily to relieve the pressure on the caregiver. For families that wish to care for their loved one at home but can't be there full time because of other obligations such as work, adult daycare is also available. This not only offers care during the day, but it also improves the quality of life for many individuals by providing recreation, socialization, and stimulation.
Young and older patients reside in nursing facilities and, in general, these patients fall within four categories; elderly, mentally ill, terminally ill, and disabled. Most are designed to assist the elderly as they become less able to care for themselves. Alzheimer's disease and dementia often strike older people, causing them to require constant supervision and medical and hygienic assistance. Falls and other accidents can render them temporarily or permanently unable of caring for themselves.
Patients who suffer from mental illness often need the supervision, rehabilitation, and medical assistance offered in nursing homes. Other patients include individuals with aggressive and terminal diseases in which further medical treatment is futile. Nursing care can make them as comfortable as possible in their last days. Patients who experience a temporary yet serious illness or victims of a debilitating accident can also benefit from 24 hour care and therapy in hopes of regaining self sufficiency.
Nursing homes should not be confused with similar establishments called assisted living facilities or retirement homes. These facilities cater to individuals that need some assistance in their daily lives, such as meal preparation and transportation, but who do not require nursing care. When considering a residential facility for a loved one who needs assistance, the individual's particular needs should be assessed to ensure that they are placed in the proper environment.