The National Study of Long-Term Care Providers (NSLTCP) has proven to be a groundbreaking initiative. Originated by the Center for Disease Control, this study was put into affect to look at and monitor the ever-evolving field of long-term care.  The information gleaned from this study was then used to help with long-term care planning and policy making.

The results from the most current NSLTCP provide the industry with an idea of who is using long-term services and what to expect in the future. The study examines the services and residents of adult day care, home health agencies, hospices, nursing homes, and residential care communities. Services examined include social work, mental health/counseling, therapeutic services, skilled nursing, pharmacy services, hospice, dental services, podiatry, dementia care, and depression screening. The details are discussed in greater detail below.


Changes in Residential Care

The NSLTCP found that nursing homes continue to be the primary form of long-term care in the United States. Nursing homes serve an average of 88 residents a day while other residential care communities serve roughly 28 seniors a day. Even with new policies designed to encourage home-based and community-based care, assisted living homes in particular appear to be growing in popularity.

The National Study of Long-Term Care Providers also reports that the amount of home-based and community-based care is increasing at a faster rate than ever. In fact, these types of care are increasing more quickly than nursing home care.


Growing Importance of Social Work

Although over 1.5 million full-time nurses are serving long-term care communities, only around 35,200 social workers can be found in all five sectors. Providing social work services is required in order to receive Medicare certification; therefore, social workers are more likely to be found in hospice or a nursing home. Interestingly, trends indicate this may be changing. As social work services become more inclusive, social workers are found in more home health agencies, assisted living, and adult daycare centers.

Alongside social services, mental health and counseling services are also growing in popularity. Respectively, mental health services can be found in 97.2% of hospice centers, 87.1% of nursing homes, 52.1% of residential care communities, and 33.5% of adult daycare. This trend also explains the increase in depression screenings in all five sectors.


Rising Awareness of Memory Care

More than one-tenth of nursing homes and residential care communities offer a dementia care unit. Impressively, another one-tenth of residential care communities offer dementia care exclusively. This trend is likely due to the growing awareness of memory care choices. Increasingly, residential care communities are redesigning their blueprints and programs to better reflect the needs of those in cognitive decline. Future trends indicate a rise in independent memory care units as well as new memory care sectors in current care communities.


Changes According to Region

Below, these three regions of the United States as they apply to long-term care will be looked at:

  • Western states: Western states continue to be the exception to the rule with a roughly equal divide between nursing home care and residential care. For instance, the region had, on average, about 25 nursing home beds and residential care beds for every 1,000 residents that were older than the age of 65. Additionally, the Western states have the highest capacity for adult day care services in the entire nation.
  • Midwest states: The greatest contrast to the Western states is the Midwest. The region has the lowest overall amount of adult day care services in the entire country. They also have the highest nursing home capacity. This capacity was shown to be 51 beds per every 1,000 seniors of the age 65 or older.
  • Eastern states: As mentioned above, the rest of the nation has a slightly higher amount of nursing homes versus residential care (though not as great a divide as in the Midwest). The levels of residential care are generally increasing in number. This is especially true of the Eastern states. Though residential care is not growing as rapidly as it is in the West, the East has nevertheless experienced improvement in this area.


The National Study of Long-Term Care Providers offers a number of important insights into the state of long-term care services and facilities in the United States. Similar studies are set to be conducted on an annual basis in the years to come. As we learn more about the needs of residents, studies such as these allow long-term care communities to adapt and accommodate their growing numbers.


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About the Author: Victoria K. Stickley is a copywriter, editor, and senior content manager based in the Dallas area. Her graduate education in counseling and research has helped immensely in her writing as well as the care she provides for her grandparents. She currently provides support and resources to senior care websites as she learns and experiences senior care first-hand.