Medical Barriers to Nursing Home Care for Rural Residents


As the U.S. population ages and the total number of people with disabilities increases, the need for long-term care is growing. However, supply has not kept pace with demand for long-term care, including nursing home care, particularly in rural areas, where the population is aging at a faster rate than the rest of the country and where nursing homes are sparser.

Nursing homes have the authority to turn down referrals if they do not have room for a new resident or if they feel that they cannot appropriately meet an individual's needs. Rural residents with complex medical care needs (including behavioral health problems, obesity, and dementia) may face barriers when seeking placement in a nursing home, especially as rural areas have larger populations of older adults, higher disability rates, and greater healthcare workforce shortages than urban areas.

Researchers on this project interviewed rural discharge planners across the country to identify these barriers as well as possible policy strategies to overcome them. This brief describes their findings.

University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center
Carrie Henning-Smith, Michelle Casey, Shailendra Prasad, Katy Kozhimannil