Many patients in nursing homes receive limited services. In 1996, approximately 17% of the 1.6 million nursing home residents received assistance with two or less activities of daily living (ADL). This descriptive study addressed this issue by investigating why residents with light care needs enter and remain in nursing homes. Residents with light care needs (N = 20) identified by directors of nursing were interviewed to elicit why they entered and remain in nursing homes. Their care level was estimated using the Minimum Data Set (MDS) and Resource Utilization Groups, Version III (RUG-III). In this study, older adults with light care needs who decide to enter and remain in nursing homes were found to be influenced by a prior hospitalization or a health event; the perceived inability to manage instrumental ADLs (IADLs), ADLs, or health monitoring at home; and lack of knowledge about alternatives to nursing home care. This study demonstrates the vital role nurse case managers can play in both acute care settings and nursing homes. They can help older adults with light care needs to make informed decisions about long-term care, seek out community options, and set in place assistive care systems that can help them age in the community.
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