The Average Length of Stay in a Skilled Nursing Facility

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Most current nursing home residents have been there over two years.
Most current nursing home residents have been there over two years. (Image: defibrillator and hospital room quipment monitor image by alma_sacra from Fotolia.com)

Skilled nursing facilities, or nursing homes, take care of patients in need of skilled nursing, but not so sick that they must be in a hospital. Most nursing home patients are elderly. Many are in need of long-term care and will never return home again.

Short-Term Care Nursing Home Patients

The average stay of patients in a nursing home for acute rehabilitation is 23 days; only 9 percent of nursing home patients fall into this category. According to Medicare, approximately 43 percent of people over the age of 65 are likely to spend time in a nursing home; of these, 24 percent will be there less than one year. According to the California Association of Health Facilities, 78 percent of the nursing home population stays there for three months or less.

Long-Term Care Nursing Home Patients

According to the National Nursing Home Survey, the average length of stay for patients currently in nursing homes is 892 days, or 2.44 years. The average length of stay for those patients who are able to be discharged is 272 days, or approximately nine months. The average length of stay for patients who die in a skilled nursing facility is just under two years.

Length of Stay Demographics

According to the National Nursing Home Survey, females spend slightly more time in nursing homes than do males, 2.51 years compared to 2.29 years. People over the age of 85 have a longer average length of stay at 2.62 years. Hispanics tend to have a briefer length of stay at 1.86 years.

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