Last week I did some research on long-term nursing home beds in Seattle. I wasn't terribly surprised at what I found.
Of the 10 nursing homes I polled, all but two of them had a waiting list of at least a year. These are not nursing beds in rehab but in long-term care.
So what does a person do while waiting a year for a nursing bed? Good question. Nursing bed availability gets more complicated when the elderly person has undesirable behaviors which are not deemed appropriate in a nursing home. They're barred from admisssion, period.
Another potential problem: While waiting for a nursing bed, an elderly person may be paying $7,000 or so monthly in an adult family home, the most common health care setting that virtually mirrors nursing home level of care. If people run out of money while waiting for a nursing bed, they may be able to convert to Medicaid funding at their current adult family home. If their home doesn't accept state-funded residents, they will have to move to one which does accept residents on Medicaid.
Further complications: Almost all nursing homes accept Medicaid, but a few don't. Some nursing homes only accept residents of their continuing care retirement community, but not from the outside community. Others give priority to their continuing care retirement residents, and accept others when there is room.
And one nursing home in the area has a short waiting list for private pay folks and a very long list for Medicaid-funded residents.
Are you thoroughly confused? I wouldn't be surprised. I think the moral of the story is this: If you think your parent will need a nursing home at some point, get on one or more waiting lists early. In the meantime, find an adult family home to see how that works.
It seems like the long-term nursing beds aren't keeping up with the demand.