Typical Nursing Home Admission Process

For many families, admitting a loved one to a nursing home is a difficult decision. Once it has been made, however, the period that follows is often filled with a strange mixture of relief and uncertainty. To ease some of that uncertainty, here is an outline of exactly what to expect from the typical nursing home admission process:

Physician Visit

In order to gain admission to the nursing home of your choice, your loved one must have been to see their physician within 30 days and received his or her recommendation to enter a nursing home environment. To qualify for nursing home enrollment, your loved one must have a condition that requires 24 hour medical care or supervision for his or her safety or the safety of those around them. Their physician will also need to send some paperwork over to the nursing home, a list of which should be provided to you by the nursing home. This list of required documents will commonly include:

A "History and Physical" which is a written summary, signed by the physician, that provides a general description of the patient (height, weight, age, etc.), a description of his or her primary medical problems, and a list of any "secondary" diagnoses.

A copy of the most recent laboratory reports (bloodwork, scans, eeg, ekg, etc.)

A list of all the medications that the patient is taking and how they are to be administered signed by the physician.

A copy of any nursing notes, therapy reports, or other information that would be helpful to the nursing home.

A written "order" signed by the physician for admission to a nursing home for long-term care.

Payment Options

The cost of living in a nursing home can be a rather large burden on a family. Average yearly costs average between $90,000 and $160,000, which is quite a sum. Luckily, many applicants will qualify for Medicare or Medicaid subsidies. Furthermore, nursing homes are by law prevented from discriminating against applicants that are now receiving or may in the future receive benefits from Medicare or Medicaid. There is an unfortunate catch-22 situation that some applicants may fall into which is where they are only eligible for Medicaid after having been admitted to a nursing home. Many nursing homes will not accept these types of “Medicaid pending” patients due to the fact that they would be providing essentially free or very low cost care to the resident for months before they are approved for Medicaid, and the assumed risk that the patient may, for some reason, not secure Medicaid benefits at all. In this scenario, the nursing home has been providing months of free care to a patient that they will now have a difficult time evicting. If the loved one’s family is able to pay the full cost of care while Medicaid is pending, the applicant will have a much better chance of being accepted.