Though Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States, it has a population of 1,059,361 people. Approximately 17.7%, or 188,000 residents, are age 65 and older. As seniors in Rhode Island age, they often find that they need an increased level of medical attention. Rhode Island is home to several top-rated hospitals, including Miriam Hospital which is high-performing in geriatric care, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Nursing homes provide round-the-clock care and nursing assistance to frail seniors. Rhode Island has 80 nursing homes to help its aging population. The 2020 Genworth Cost of Care Survey estimates the average cost of nursing home care in Rhode Island to be $8,669 a month in a semiprivate room, but that cost can vary depending on location, amenities and services provided. For a private room, that cost increases to $10,220, which is more affordable than neighboring states.

This guide helps seniors and their families find the information they need to choose a nursing home, find home-based care when appropriate and pay for those care options. It also outlines the laws that govern nursing homes in the state and provides resources for seniors and their families.

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Rhode Island

Rhode Island has a fairly affordable cost for long-term care compared to nearby states. In the 2020 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the average cost for a semiprivate room in a Rhode Island nursing home was $8,669. Seniors in Massachusetts paid significantly more at $12,623. Similarly, in Connecticut, the cost averaged to $12,927. New York seniors also have a high cost at $12,319 a month. Rhode Island’s costs are far closer to those of the nation as a whole than the nearby states. On average, seniors across the nation paid $7,756 a month for nursing home care.

$8669

Rhode Island

$7756

The United States

$12623

Massachusetts

$12927

Connecticut

$12319

New York

Throughout the state of Rhode Island and its neighbors, costs vary depending on the city where a senior lives. Providence, the capital city of Rhode Island, has an average that’s higher than the state’s average. In 2020 that average was $9,733. In nearby Norwich, Connecticut, the cost for nursing home care jumped to $12,463, and Hartford was even higher at $13,079. In Worcester, Massachusetts, seniors paid on average $12,486. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts, had one of the highest averages at $13,326.

$9733

Providence

$12463

Norwich, CT

$12486

Worcester, MA

$13079

Hartford, CT

$13326

Barnstable Town, MA

Nursing home care may not be the right choice for everyone, and Rhode Island offers other long-term care options. The most affordable choice is adult day care. This provides care during daytime hours at a community-based care center but allows the senior to sleep at home at night. The average cost for this was $1,625. Seniors who choose assisted living communities paid an average of $4,950. Home care, which includes homemaking help and personal care at home, averaged $5,529 a month, while home health care, which adds basic healthcare services, increased the average monthly cost to $5,911.

$5529

In-Home Care

$5911

Home Health Care

$1625

Adult Day Care

$4950

Assisted Living Facility

$8669

Nursing home care

Does Medicaid Cover Nursing Home Care in Rhode Island?

Currently, over 340,000 individuals are enrolled in Rhode Island’s Medicaid and CHIP programs, including seniors ages 65 and older. Seniors residing in Rhode Island nursing homes who are Medicaid-enrolled have their room and board covered as well as any medical expenses, therapies, daily living assistance and transportation to medical appointments. Medical equipment, supplies and personal sundry items may also be covered. 

Rhode Island has 78 nursing homes, many of which accept Medicaid, with more than 8,000 beds available. Residents who qualify through HealthSource RI receive around-the-clock care from RNs and other healthcare professionals. Costs for other services such as medical transportation to medical specialists, on-site occupational or physical therapies or dental care are also covered. Elders who need a less intensive form of nursing care may be able to receive care at home or in a residential setting such as an assisted living facility. Options for this type of care include PACE, the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly and the Global Consumer Choice Compact Waiver.   

Medicaid Eligibility in Rhode Island

Specific income and asset criteria must be met to qualify for Rhode Island’s Medicaid program. Applicants must have little in the way of assets, be considered low to very low income and be 65 and older. A nursing level of care is also required, as determined via a medical screening process by a local registered nurse or social worker from the nearest case management agency.    

All income and assets are counted as part of the financial eligibility determination process. For a single applicant, yearly income cannot exceed $30,276, with no more than $4,000 in total assets. In two-person households where only one person is applying, the same limitations apply, but the non-applicant spouse may retain up to $137,400 in assets as part of the Spousal Impoverishment Act. In cases where both spouses are applying, the income doubles, to $60,552, as does the asset cap, to $8,000.         

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Rhode Island

Income Limits* 
Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$30,276

$4,000

Two-Person Household
(Only One Person Applying)

$30,276

$4,000 for applicant 
$137,400 for non-applicant

Two-Person Household
(Both People Applying)

$60,552

$8,000

*Per year

Additional qualifications include being a full-time Rhode Island resident and a U.S. citizen or legal resident. 

How to Apply for Medicaid in Rhode Island

To apply for Rhode Island’s Medicaid program, families can utilize the online HealthSource RI portal, where they can upload all documents and complete paperwork electronically. They can also call the Department of Human Services at (855) 697-4347 or download and print a paper application to mail or bring in person to their local DHS Office. All pertinent documents must be collected prior to applying, as the application process can be complicated and lengthy. 

Information You Will Need:   

  • Copy of birth certificate 
  • Medicare and Social Security cards
  • Most recent statement showing health insurance premiums 
  • Income verification from all sources including wages, retirement earnings, royalties and interest
  • Most recent statement for all financial accounts such as bank accounts, investments, annuities, 401Ks and IRAs 
  • Life insurance documents
  • Proof of legal resident status
  • Car registration or title and insurance information
  • Five years of bank statements
  • Documents pertaining to family trusts that show all held assets
  • Funeral trust documents with beneficiaries listed
  • Power of attorney documentation, if applicable

Additional Medicaid Support and Resources in Rhode Island

Below is a listing of contact information and a short description of Rhode Island agencies that help elders and their loved ones understand the ins and outs of the often-complicated Medicaid application process and eligibility requirements. 

Resource
Contact
Service

(401) 462-4444

This state agency has connections to numerous local agencies so seniors and their families can get personalized support and access to Medicaid information and other topics pertaining to long-term care.

Online Only

Offering a wealth of Medicaid information, the American Council on Aging has general information about Medicaid income and asset requirements, Medicaid planning assistance and Medicaid care options, including in-home care. A Spend-Down Calculator lets families quickly see how much their loved one would need to spend down to qualify for services.

(866) 762-2237

A good starting point for families looking to find out basic Medicaid information, Benefits.gov is a federal website that provides general eligibility criteria and state links for more in-depth information on how to apply. 

Does Medicare Cover Nursing Home Care in Rhode Island?

Medicare provides limited coverage for short-term stays in a skilled nursing facility following a hospital stay, but seniors must meet a number of specific requirements. This benefit is available to beneficiaries who have been hospitalized for at least three days, excluding the date of discharge, so it’s most valuable for those who are recovering from an injury, illness or surgery.

Once seniors meet the hospitalization requirement, Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of skilled nursing per benefit period. The first 20 days are covered in full. Starting on day 21, beneficiaries must pay a daily coinsurance rate. After day 100, seniors are responsible for the entire cost.

What Does Medicare Cover?

Medicare covers a number of specific services, including:

  • Meals
  • A semiprivate room
  • Medications
  • Skilled nursing
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Audiologist care
  • Medical supplies
  • Medical social services
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Ambulance transportation

What Isn’t Covered by Medicare?

Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care that addresses seniors’ day-to-day needs. This includes help with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing and using medical equipment.

For more information about Medicare and when it covers Nursing Home Care, read our Guide to Nursing Homes.

Medicare Support and Resources in Rhode Island

While Medicare doesn’t directly cover the cost of nursing home care, it can be a very useful healthcare program to use while an elder is still living at home. More details about what Medicare can and cannot cover, how it compares with other programs such as Medicaid and other available supplemental plans are available through the resources listed below.  

Resource
Contact
Service

(888) 884-8721

Offered through the Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program provides targeted Medicare advice to meet seniors' needs. Counselors meet either in person or over the phone to provide details about claim submissions, review basic Medicare information or suggest subsidized healthcare programs for those who qualify. 

(800) 794-6559

Operated under the umbrella of the National Council of Aging, BenefitsCheckUp is a free service that lets individuals enter their zip code to find specific services in their area, including Medicare Savings programs.

(800) 633-4227

Medicare.gov offers a live chat feature where visitors can have their Medicare questions answered in real time. The site provides information about Medicare costs and how the various plans compare. Individuals can use the search feature to find specific providers or medical equipment suppliers in their area. 

Other Financial Assistance Options for Nursing Home Care in Rhode Island

While Medicaid and Medicare are two of the most common programs used to pay for Nursing Home Care, there are other financial assistance options available, depending on your unique situation.

How to Apply
How It Works

Aid and Attendance

Learn more and apply online at va.gov.

Veterans who receive a VA pension may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, a monthly cash allowance that veterans receive in addition to their standard pension amount. The benefit is intended for veterans in need of long-term care services and may be used towards paying for skilled nursing care.

Reverse Mortgages

Learn more about your options and how to apply at ftc.gov

If you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to help pay for nursing care. Reverse mortgages are loans that one can take out against the value of their home, essentially converting some of the home's equity into cash. Reverse mortgage loans do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months of receiving the loan.

Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance

Learn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at acl.gov.

Seniors who already have long-term care insurance may be able to use it to pay for skilled nursing care. Most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, but it depends on the specific policy terms. Note that older adults who are already in need of skilled nursing care will not typically be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Rhode Island

Available at little to no cost, the following resources can help families connect with services such as legal aid, healthcare, nursing, guardianship and veterans’ benefits. Services may in some cases be delivered at home, though some, such as the PACE program, may also be available in an assisted living facility. 

Resource
Contact
Service

(401) 785-3340

Suspected cases of neglect or abuse can be reported to Rhode Island’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, which protects the rights of seniors living in long-term care facilities, Ombudsmen investigate complaints ranging from care concerns to cases of abuse and work as mediators between facilities and residents to ensure a satisfactory outcome. 

(401) 434-1400 

PACE Rhode Island provides services that help seniors live at home or in their community safely. Meant to help delay nursing home placement, PACE services include primary and specialist care, nursing, nutrition, home care and transportation. In addition to being 55 and older, applicants must require a nursing level of care but, through PACE’s services, be able to live safely either at home or in another residential setting such as an assisted living facility.

(401) 462-3000

The Volunteer Guardianship program pairs seniors 60 and older living in residential care facilities with volunteers who act as guardians, advocating on their behalf regarding healthcare decisions and other long-term care concerns if needed.

(401) 462-4444

Access Point coordinates elder services and programs through its six statewide offices. Free guidance on the various services is offered by specialists, who also apply to various programs. 

(401) 274-2652

Part of Rhode Island Legal Services, the Elder Protection Project offers free legal advice and representation to seniors facing abuse or neglect. In addition to increasing access to legal aid through the Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs, the Elder Protection Project provides social work services to underserved and vulnerable populations throughout the state.

(401) 921-2119

Senior veterans and their dependents can receive assistance filing claims and applying for pensions or other benefits through the Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services. Counselors can also assist with healthcare, counseling and possible financial assistance for those seniors who qualify. 

COVID-19 Rules for Nursing Homes in Rhode Island

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including health.ri.gov. These rules apply to Independent Living Communities and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/13/2022, but since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving pandemic, contact your local senior living facility or Area Agency on Aging for more specific and up-to-date information.

Visitation Policies

Rules for Rhode Island Communities

Are loved ones allowed to visit to provide emotional support?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are relatives allowed to visit for end-of-life care?

Yes

Are residents required to quarantine after visiting with a loved one?

No

Are visitors required to wear PPE (including masks) in order to visit residents?

Yes

Are non-medical contractors (such as hairdressers and entertainers) allowed in senior living facilities?

Yes

Are visitors checked for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are visitors required to answer questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?

Yes

Outings & Social Activities

Rules for Rhode Island Communities

Are residents allowed to leave (errands, visiting family, etc.) for non-medical reasons?

Yes

Are residents who leave required to quarantine when they return?

No (Conditions Apply)

Are senior living communities required to cancel all group outings?

No

Are residents allowed to eat meals together in a common area?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are residents allowed to gather in common areas for group activites?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents

Rules for Rhode Island Communities

Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?

Yes

Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?

Not Available*

Are staff members members regularly required to do a health and safety screening, including questions about travel, contact with positive cases, etc?

Yes

Are residents regularly screened for COVID-19 symptoms?

Not Available*

Are residents regularly checked for elevated temperatures?

Not Available*

Are residents regularly tested for COVID-19?

Not Available*

*Note: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Rhode Island

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Rhode Island
Licensing Requirements
Under Rhode Island state law, all nursing homes in Rhode Island must be licensed through the Department of Health.
Staffing Requirements
Under current legislation, Rhode Island nursing homes must have sufficient nursing staff to provide a minimum of 4.1 hours of direct nursing care per resident every day. That includes 2.8 hours of care from a certified nursing assistant.All nursing homes must have a registered nurse on duty at all times. They also must employ a director of nursing. Nursing staff hours spent on non-direct caregiving tasks cannot count toward minimum staffing hours.
Staff Training Requirements
Staff must meet all training and licensing requirements to work as registered nurses or certified nursing assistants based on Rhode Island regulations.
Admission Restrictions
Long-term care facilities can only admit residents if they have the specialized services needed to meet their unique, individual medical needs.
Care Planning Requirements
Each resident has the right to a personal medical care plan. That plan must be made in collaboration with a registered nurse and attending physician. It also must be based on a physical exam done within the first 48 hours of admission or within the five days prior to admission.
Dietary and Nutritional Services Requirements
Long-term care facilities must produce menus that meet the nutritional needs outlined in the Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements. Menus must be planned at least one week in advance and shall include snacks between the evening meal and bedtime. All menus must be posted in a public place and kept on file for at least 30 days. Finally, diets must be planned to accommodate any physician's orders for individual residents.
Specialized Rehabilitative Services
Rhode Island nursing homes are required to provide specialized rehabilitative services according to the order of the attending physician. These services include:Speech pathologyAudiologyOccupational therapyThese services must be provided through professionally licensed therapists or assistants.
Medication and Pharmaceutical Services
Medications must be administered according to attending physicians. Medications must be checked against the doctor's orders, and residents must be identified before administering a medication. Facilities must maintain an individual medication record for each resident that records the medications given and their doses.
Activities Requirements
Residents have the right to participate in activities of social, religious and community groups as they wish unless they are medically unable to do so. Facilities are also required to provide an activities program that promotes social, cognitive and physical activity.
Infection Control Requirements
Nursing homes must maintain facility-wide infection surveillance programs to help protect residents from contagious infections. This should include plans for isolating residents with known infectious diseases.If an infectious disease presents, the facility must report it to the Rhode Island Department of Health, Division of Preparedness, Response, Infectious Disease and EMS.
Medicaid Coverage
Rhode Island Medicaid pays for nursing home care for residents who are financially eligible and medically in need of nursing care. Medicaid must be used at Medicaid-approved facilities.