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

Financial Assistance for Nursing Home Care in Rhode Island

Most people do not pay for skilled nursing care entirely out-of-pocket. Rather, they utilize financial assistance programs to help cover the cost of nursing care. Of public financial assistance programs, Medicaid provides the most comprehensive coverage of nursing home care. But, not all seniors are eligible for Medicaid. And because each state operates its own Medicaid program within federal guidelines, eligibility and benefits vary from state to state. Below, we provide more information on Medicaid in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island’s Medicaid Program

Rhode Island has 315,457 people enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, many of whom are seniors. Through Medicaid’s Long-Term Services and Supports, qualified seniors and disabled adults in Rhode Island can get help to pay for their nursing home care. This program provides money to use toward home and community-based care or nursing home care, depending on the medical need of the applicant and their desires. LTSS covers nursing home care only for people who meet medical criteria for the highest level of care. Those who do not can use their LTSS benefit to pay for home-based services. Through LTSS, seniors may also receive Community Transition Services to assist with the transition from institutional care to home-based care.

Seniors who feel they may be eligible for Medicaid Long-Term Services and Supports need to fill out the Application for Assistance (DHS-2) and bring it to the Department of Health Services office. Rhode Island currently has 80 nursing homes residents can choose from for their care.

Medicaid Eligibility in Rhode Island

To receive Medicaid Long-Term Services and Support, a Rhode Island senior must have less than $4,000 in resources. Income is also considered, and if the income is above a set limit, the senior may need to pay for some of their LTSS services. The state divides care levels based on medical need. Seniors who score as needing the Highest Level of Care can receive nursing home support or home-based care. Those that score as needing a High Level of Care only have the option for home-based care.

Alternative Financial Assistance Options

  • Medicare: Medicare will cover the cost of one’s care in a skilled nursing facility for the first 20 days of their stay, and a portion of the costs up until day 100. After 100 days, the individual is responsible for all costs. Seniors must also have a “qualifying hospital stay” of at least 3 days prior to their admission to a nursing home in order to qualify for Medicare coverage.
  • Aid and Attendance: 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: 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. This type of funding can be especially useful for married couples when only one partner needs nursing care, as the other residents of the home may continue living there. Reverse mortgage loans do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months of receiving the loan.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Seniors who already have long-term care insurance may be covered for skilled nursing care. Most policies cover at least a portion of the cost of nursing home care, but it depends on the specific policy terms. Note that older adults who are already in need of skilled nursing care will not be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Rhode Island

Seniors and their families have a number of resources available to them in Rhode Island to help with the transition to nursing home care or to allow them to continue living at home with assistance. Many of these are available at little to no cost based on a senior’s income.

ResourceContactService
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program(401) 785-3340Seniors living in nursing homes and their families can get help from the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program if they suspect abuse or neglect. This program protects the rights of the elderly living in nursing homes and assisted living communities. Residents of these families can contact the Ombudsman to learn about their rights or to file complaints about abuse and neglect. The Ombudsman investigates the complaint and helps protect the rights of residents in the facility.
PACE Rhode Island(401) 490-6566PACE Rhode Island helps seniors who wish to remain at home but who need support and services to do so safely. Through PACE-RI, seniors can receive transportation help, home care, therapy and companionship help, as well as outpatient health services and nursing care at home. Should a resident need nursing home care, PACE connects them with it. The cost of PACE-RI services is based on Medicaid and Medicare eligibility. Many seniors pay little to nothing for these services.
Volunteer Guardianship(401) 462-3000Seniors who do not have family members or friends nearby who can provide help when they need it can use the Volunteer Guardianship program. Through this program, the state of Rhode Island pairs seniors age 60 and older who live in care facilities and have cognitive conditions with volunteers who serve as guardians when needed. The guardian can help with health care decisions if the senior’s cognitive condition limits their capacity to do so independently.
Rhode Island Access Point(401) 462-4444Anyone age 55 or older or the caregivers of Rhode Island seniors can get help finding the programs and services they are eligible to receive through Access Point, which manages six offices throughout the state. Specialists at Point provide free guidance to help seniors find the services they need, including health care and long-term care options, and they assist with the application process for these programs.
Rhode Island Legal Services(401) 274-2652Through Rhode Island Senior Services’ Elder Protection Project, seniors and their families can get free legal help when facing abuse and neglect issues. This program is available to seniors across the state age 60 and over.
Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services(401) 921-2119The Rhode Island Department of Veteran’s Affairs provides services and help to qualified veterans, including senior veterans, in the state. Through the Office, veterans can get help with health care, basic needs, housing and counseling. Temporary financial assistance may be available to qualified veterans as well. The Office of Veterans Services oversees the Rhode Island Veterans Home in Bristol which provides long-term care and rehab services to many veterans

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Rhode Island

Licensing RequirementsUnder Rhode Island state law, all nursing homes in Rhode Island must be licensed through the Department of Health.
Staffing RequirementsUnder 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 RequirementsStaff must meet all training and licensing requirements to work as registered nurses or certified nursing assistants based on Rhode Island regulations.
Admission RestrictionsLong-term care facilities can only admit residents if they have the specialized services needed to meet their unique, individual medical needs.
Care Planning RequirementsEach 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 RequirementsLong-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 ServicesRhode 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 ServicesMedications 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 RequirementsResidents 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 RequirementsNursing 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 CoverageRhode 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.