What Are Luxury Nursing Homes Like? Amenities + Costs Explained

Updated

Certified Care Manager, Aging Life Care Professional, and National Master Guardian Emeritus

The term luxury nursing home might be confusing since most people don’t think of nursing homes as being luxurious at all, and most aren’t. Finding a true luxury nursing home is a real challenge unless you live in a community with many senior housing options to choose from. Most people will not have many choices regarding a luxury nursing home, no matter how much money they have.

Jump ahead to these sections:

Every family wants the best care they can find. The bottom line is that you want to find the best care possible you can pay for. That is a good starting point, and from there, you can look for amenities and other services that enhance your well-being and comfort.

How Are Luxury Nursing Homes Different Than Other Nursing Homes?

Luxury nursing homes are different from other nursing homes in that they not only look better; they offer superior care. The majority of nursing homes in the United States accept Medicaid as their primary payor source.

That doesn’t mean that patients in nursing homes don’t pay privately. They do, but many will deplete their assets and qualify for Medicaid, which then pays for 100% of nursing home costs of care.

Medicaid covers 62 percent of nursing home residents across the country. Why does that make a difference? Most of these nursing homes are owned by private investment or private equity firms that cut costs to make a profit. 

As a result of the COVID pandemic, deaths were extremely high in nursing homes across the U.S. In-depth investigations revealed years-long systemic problems in most nursing homes due to high staff turnover, infection control issues, and fundamental care problems. All these things play a part when it comes to the problems plaguing nursing homes.

Some nursing home facilities allow family members to pay additional fees to have a private room. Of course, anyone can hire private caregivers to supplement the care they are already receiving.

Still, even for families looking for extraordinary care and amenities at a nursing home can have trouble even finding such a place. If money is no object, it is easier to navigate the nursing home landscape than for people who have limited resources.

Those looking for luxury nursing homes will have to look for the following differences:

Higher staff-to-resident ratio

Luxury nursing homes have a higher staff-to-resident ratio. More staff translates to better care in almost all cases. If your loved one needs an aide or a nurse, they won’t have to wait as long for a response.

In other nursing homes, staff may be stretched too thin caring for many residents at once. One of the major complaints in many nursing homes is how long residents have to wait for staff to respond to their call lights.

Modern therapy facilities

Luxury nursing homes have state-of-the-art physical and occupational therapy gyms to provide therapies to their residents. Other nursing homes will have therapy gyms, but the equipment might be outdated and the space very small.

Better cleaning and infection control

Unfortunately, a luxury nursing home is more likely to be cleaner than one that isn’t. Much of this is due to staffing shortages at other nursing homes, making it hard to keep up on routine cleaning.

In addition, you should expect infection control and safety protocols to be a priority at a luxury nursing home. They should be a priority at all nursing homes across the country, but sadly this is not always the case. 

Even a nursing home that looks good on the surface may not have a good record of infection control. Hence, we suggest investigating any complaints with the local health department and the ombudsman program.

Lower staff turnover

Luxury nursing homes should have a lower staff turnover because, presumably, they pay their staff higher wages and have better benefits. A consistent team means consistent care. When the same nurses, aides, and therapy staff care for your loved one, they get to know the person and understand their needs and concerns.

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What Amenities Do Luxury Nursing Homes Typically Offer?

Nursing homes can vary in terms of the amenities they offer. A newer nursing home can add extras as part of a new build project, but older ones may not want to incur the cost of adding additional amenities that require major construction. Other alternatives to nursing homes and assisted living include continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs).

Newer CCRCs that have nursing homes as a part of their community are likely to have the most amenities. CCRCs appeal to many older adults because they don’t have to decide where to go as their care needs increase. Most CCRCs have independent living all the way through to nursing home care.

  • Pools: Pools are becoming standard features of newer CCRCs and are a big attraction for older adults. For one thing, pools are a safe place to do therapies, and many people prefer pool therapy and exercise.
  • Transportation: In a luxury nursing home, transportation should be not only comfortable but should also provide flexible scheduling. While many nursing homes provide primary care on-site, if you have specialists you prefer to see, you should be able to make appointments with transportation quickly and seamlessly.
  • Medical massage: Medical massage and therapeutic touch might be a standard option in a luxury nursing home. Both medical massage and any therapeutic touch are very beneficial for mood, healing, pain control, and stress relief.
  • Food choices: In a luxury nursing home, you may expect a variety of food choices and accommodation of your dietary preferences. Not everyone wants to eat their meals at prescribed times during the day, and having flexibility may be an amenity you can count on. 

How Much Does a Luxury Nursing Home Cost?

The cost of a luxury nursing home will depend on several factors. Where you live is one, and the type of community you choose is the other. According to Genworth, the national monthly median cost of a private room in a stand-alone nursing home is $8,821. You could pay less or quite a bit more. Non-profit and faith-based nursing homes may have lower costs.

A CCRC will have a different financial model. According to AARP, “the average initial payment [for a CCRC] is $329,000, but it can top $1 million at some communities. Once residents move in, they pay monthly maintenance or service fees that typically run $2,000 to $4,000.” 

CCRC contracts can be very complicated, so you may want to ask an attorney to review any CCRC contract under consideration. The most important consideration when looking at luxury nursing homes is to get the value you are paying for. Even if money is no object, in the end, you or your loved one wants the best care possible.

Where Can You Find Luxury Nursing Homes?

As we mentioned, finding a luxury nursing home in your area might be challenging, especially in smaller communities. Does it make sense to move someplace where you might have more choices? It is worth discussing. However, consider that you will want some family close by for support and visits. 

Families that can’t find luxury nursing homes nearby can pay for in-home care and private nursing. In-home care for someone who meets nursing home criteria can be much more expensive than a nursing home, but some families prefer that option. In-home round-the-clock home care can exceed $200,000 a year, which doesn’t include any nursing care.

CCRCs

CCRCs are a good place to start looking for luxury nursing home care. The concept behind a CCRC is that you pay upfront (and monthly) for any care you need for the rest of your life. Most people start out in an independent living facility.

When they are in need of additional care, they can move from there to assisted living, and then to a nursing home, all on the same campus. If luxury nursing home care is in your budget, a CCRC may be the best way to ensure that you have that option should you need it.

Faith-based CCRCs or nursing homes

Faith-based care, either through a CCRC or other free-standing nursing homes, is worth considering. Many of these care communities do not require that you be a member of the religious organization that runs the facility, and the care is generally reported to be excellent.  If you do belong to a particular faith, look for any nursing homes they might have in your area. 

A US News and World Report found that non-profit nursing homes tend to provide better care. Faith-based organizations tend to focus on their mission of serving residents, not shareholders. But, for-profit nursing homes can be superior, and there are poor non-profit nursing homes, but averaged out, non-profit and faith-based do better. 

Senior placement advisor

Most senior placement advisors work with families to find the right assisted living community. Senior placement advisors are reimbursed by assisted living communities when someone they are working with moves in. Nursing homes do not compensate senior placement advisors.

But, these advisors can be a wealth of knowledge if they are local. Although a good advisor will not make any money by talking with you, most are happy to advise you on any luxury nursing homes in the area.

What Are Luxury Nursing Homes Like?

Understanding what makes the difference between a traditional nursing home and a luxury nursing home depends on what you consider to be the most necessary care options for your loved one. Once you’ve figured out what you need alongside the amenities you can expect in a luxury nursing home, you can begin finding one with the best care as well.


Sources:

  1. Abelson, Reed. “High Staff Turnover at U.S. Nursing Homes Poses Risks for Residents’ Care.” The New York Times, 1 March 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/03/01/health/covid-nursing-homes-staff-turnover.html
  2. “Medicaid’s Role in Nursing Home Care.” Kaiser Family Foundation, 20 June 2017, www.kff.org/infographic/medicaids-role-in-nursing-home-care/
  3. “How Continuing Care Retirement Communities Work.” AARP, 24 October 2019, www.aarp.org/caregiving/basics/info-2017/continuing-care-retirement-communities.html
  4. “Cost of Care Survey.” Genworth, www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html
  5. Schroeder, Michael. “Nonprofit Versus For-Profit Senior Care - Is There a Difference?” Home / Wellness / Aging Well, U.S. News and World Report, 30 October 2018,  health.usnews.com/wellness/aging-well/articles/2018-10-30/is-there-a-difference-between-nonprofit-and-for-profit-senior-care
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