Not your grandfather’s nursing home

Not your grandfather’s nursing home

Baby boomers are aging differently than their greatest generation parents. Their lifestyles and preferences are impacting how traditional nursing homes look and operate.

Research shows that baby boomers prefer to “age in place” – a growing trend of adapting their own homes to remain safe, independent and comfortable in them as they age, for as long as possible. In fact, 87 percent of adults age 65 and over want to stay in their current home and community as they age.

Traditional nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), are also adapting their facilities to serve this aging trend. Many facilities that have focused primarily on long-term care are adding short-stay care to their offerings to serve those patients whose stays are measured in days and weeks rather than months, years or the rest of a lifetime.

Short stays are for those patients recovering after hip or knee replacement, a stroke or open heart surgery, individuals with chronic respiratory issues, those in need of wound care or those who need to regain strength after a debilitating illness. Patients stay at the facility to receive treatment and therapy until they can safely transition home and typically range in age from 50s to 70s.

“My aging baby boomer patients want to live independently for as long as possible,” says Dr. Todd Gephart, medical director at Advocate Sherman West Court, a skilled nursing facility in Elgin, Ill. “They come to us with the goal of getting healthy and strong enough to return home and get back to their lives.”

West Court opened in 1991 with 120 semi-private long-term care rooms and 28 short stay rooms. Today, the facility has 112 long-term care rooms, of which 20 are private and 74 are short stay rooms. About three-quarters of the facility is now used for short stay care.

The national average length of stay in a skilled nursing facility for long-term residents is about two years; short stays average 28 days. However, West Court is reducing length of stay while improving outcomes for patients.

“Short stays at West Court average 14-15 days,” says Dr. Gephart. “Our staff works closely with the patient, family and the health care team to provide the highest level of care during the stay and to prepare for a successful transition to independent or assisted living, with support from our home health partners when needed.”

West Court also offers long-term residential care for patients who are not able to live alone or who prefer to live in a community setting.

“Having both short and long term care allows us to serve a broad spectrum of our community’s needs,” says Dr. Gephart. “In either case, our goal is to help them avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and achieve a high quality of life.”

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Megan Monsess

Megan Monsess is marketing and admissions specialist at Advocate Sherman West Court. She's worked in health care for 8 years and graduated from Northern Illinois University with a bachelors in Public Health. She's an avid Cubs fan and enjoys riding her bike in her spare time.