The Evolution of Nursing Homes

The Evolution of Nursing Homes

By Channing Clyde, Admissions Director & Heather Hamilton, Community Liaison, Salt Lake City LIVING WELL Magazine

Joanna is a 62-year-old single woman living alone in an apartment located in downtown Salt Lake City. After falling, and sustaining a fracture, her physician recommended hip replacement surgery. The orthopedic surgeon explained to her that she would require nursing care and physical therapy following surgery at a rehab center. Unfortunately, Joanna had preconceived notions of substandard care in rehabilitation centers; therefore, she was hesitant to proceed with surgery. After surgery, and some convincing from her surgeon, Joanna was transferred to a rehabilitation center. Joanna was pleasantly surprised with the care provided; “If it hadn’t been for the 24-hour care and wonderful physical therapy staff, I would have never been able to care of myself at home!” she says.

Before the 1900s, family members normally cared for the elderly once they were unable to care for themselves. If family could not care for their loved one, there were very few options available. Churches and women’s groups were the first to establish homes for widows and single women. Others that did not meet the requirements were left with the option of almshouses.  Almshouses or “poor farms” were known for their dilapidated structures, inadequate care, and were considered a last resort where many went to die.

To minimize the need for almshouses, the Social Security Act was passed in 1935; allowing grants for old age assistance to retired workers, excluding those who lived in public institutions.  In the 1940s, the federal government demanded legislation to clean up almshouses, now referred to as nursing homes. States had to form licensing bureaus and standards for all nursing homes in order to receive federal grants such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Congress passed the first set of standards for nursing homes in 1967, continuing to periodically update the standards. The most notable change was in 1987 as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA). These standards require that nursing facilities provide a level of care that allows patients to maintain the highest physical, mental, and psychosocial well being.

Forty-five years after Congress passed the first set of nursing home standards, healthcare is now one of the most regulated industries, second to nuclear power. One of the regulations implemented was the Five-Star rating system. This rating system is based on health inspections, staffing, and quality measures to assist patients with investigating nursing home standards.

Mt Olympus Rehabilitation is one of the facilities that have been given a high rating through Medicare’s Five-Star rating system. They successfully provide superior medical care including nursing, physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Mt Olympus has also perfected a friendly and comfortable atmosphere inside a beautiful facility. Thanks to new guidelines and regulations, finding a facility worthy of caring for your loved one is at the tip of your fingers.

If you would like more information on Mt Olympus Rehabilitation, you can tour the facility located at 2200 E. 3300 South in Salt Lake City or you can contact Heather Hamilton at

80-486-2096. For information regarding the Five-Star rating system go to