First-ever CDC report: Nursing homes provide most long-term care nationwide, alternative settings gain ground in the West

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Nursing homes still account for the vast majority of long-term care services available in the United States despite policies meant to encourage home- and community-based care, according to a new government report. The first-ever “National Study of Long-Term Care Providers” includes data on the capacity and operational characteristics of providers, and information about the people cared for in these settings.

Investigators with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) conducted provider surveys and analyzed government data to compile the statistics. They are meant to be a baseline for future reports, which will be released every other year, according to the NCHS.

Research has shown home- and community-based care is increasing at a faster rate than nursing home care, the report states. However, nursing homes are still by far the most prevalent long-term care settings in most regions, the NCHS research found.

The only exception is in Western states, where capacity for nursing homes and residential care such as assisted living were roughly equal as of 2012. The region had about 25 nursing home and residential care beds per 1,000 residents aged 65 and older, according to the report. The West also had the highest adult day care capacity in the nation.

The greatest contrast was in the Midwest. This region had the lowest adult day care capacity in the nation and the highest nursing home capacity, at 51 beds per 1,000 seniors. This was more than double the region's residential care capacity.

Nationwide, there were 15,700 Medicare- or Medicaid-certified nursing homes in the nation last year, with an average of 106 beds each, the researchers determined. Total nursing hours per resident day averaged 3.8 for nursing homes, 2.6 for residential care and 1.6 for adult day care.

Nearly half of nursing home residents are depressed, and about the same number have some form of dementia, according to the report. The rate of depression was lowest in residential care communities (25%).

The 2013 report includes a variety of other statistics, including a state-by-state breakdown of long-term care capacity and usage.

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