Comparing nursing homes is likely to be the most important comparison shopping you’ll ever do. Needless to say, a number of factors must be evaluated including—but not limited to—cost, hiring practices, reputation, location/distance from family, flexibility of care, and available health care services and medical professionals. The size of the nursing home likely has some impact on these characteristics, as well as other, inherent pros and cons associated with facility size. Here are some of the things to be thinking about in terms of size when comparing nursing homes in Pennsylvania:
The social environment in large and small facilities
One of the most consistent differences between large and small nursing home facilities is the social environment. Facilities with fewer residents and staff are likely to form closely knit bonds, but everybody also knows each other’s business, leading to a gossipy social environment. Fewer residents may also limit the opportunities to meet new people and make new friendships.
In this way, comparing nursing homes is no so different than making a choice about where you want to live at any age. If you’re the type of person who prefers small-town rural settings, a small nursing home is likely the best choice for you. If, on the other hand, you’ve always preferred the hustle-and-bustle of the city center, a larger nursing home may be a better fit.
Comparing nursing home facilities
The size of a nursing home is almost always listed as the number of licensed beds, but it’s also worth considering the size of the facilities. Larger facilities will typically provide more activities, more equipment, larger rooms, and less of a cramped atmosphere. But they can also take on a more “institutional” feel, rather than a residential or “homey” feel. Elderly residents with dementia may be particularly ill-suited for large nursing home facilities where a multi-story or sprawling building and frequent rotation of staff may exacerbate the confusion and paranoia these seniors often struggle with.
Generalizations and elder abuse
Comparing nursing homes based on size is a worthy exercise, but it’s important to be cognizant of generalizations and misconceptions. It’s easy to assume, for example, that the larger staff of big nursing homes leaves these facilities more vulnerable to abusive staff, but it’s hard to say for sure. Best hiring practices (such as not cutting corners with background checks) can mitigate these risks. Meanwhile, the more tightly knit atmosphere of smaller nursing homes may also lead to cases of misplaced trust.
On this note, public awareness and education programs for elder abuse are hopefully reducing its occurrence, but studies have suggested that possibly five of every six elder abuse incidents go unreported/undetected. And this makes statistics on elder abuse inherently unreliable.
Finding and comparing nursing home costs in Pennsylvania
Genworth Financial, a global financial security and services company, has calculated the average cost of nursing home facilities for private and semi-private rooms in more than a dozen Pennsylvania cities. You can find detailed information and advice on these cost estimates here:
Average cost of facility care for seniors in eastern Pennsylvania
Average cost of senior care facilities in west and central Pennsylvania
And, in even better news, searching for a nursing home based on size is a painless process. Simply use this link to the Pennsylvania Department of Health to find local nursing home facilities of varying sizes.