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.