With its beautiful location in the Appalachian Mountains, West Virginia appeals to people who love nature. It’s currently home to nearly 1.8 million residents, and 20.5% of the population is aged 65 and older. The state’s many senior services make it popular with retirees.

In addition to room and board, nursing homes provide around-the-clock supervision along with skilled nursing care. The Genworth Cost of Care Survey for 2020 indicates West Virginia has a higher-than-average cost for nursing home care. Seniors who want a semiprivate room pay an average of $11,276, and the cost increases to $12,136 for a private room.

This guide provides an overview of nursing home care options for West Virginia seniors, including what it may cost and what options to pay for coverage are available. It also offers resources that frail seniors and their families can use to help with independence at home or the transition to nursing home care.

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in West Virginia

The cost of skilled nursing home care in West Virginia is high compared to the rest of the nation. According to the 2020 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, West Virginia seniors pay an average of $11,376 per month for a semiprivate room in a nursing home. This is significantly higher than the national average of $7,756, and it’s also higher than the costs in several nearby states. For instance, in Kentucky, families can expect to pay around $7,330 per month, and in Virginia, the cost is just a little more at $7,665. Ohio has one of the lowest costs in the region at $7,148. In Pennsylvania, the average cost is $10,038 per month. While this is closer to the West Virginia rate, it’s still over $1,300 less expensive.

$11376

West Virginia

$11376

The United States

$7148

Ohio

$7330

Kentucky

$7665

Virginia

$10038

Pennsylvania

Across West Virginia, the cost of nursing home care varies quite a bit. In Weirton in the northern part of the state, seniors pay an average of $6,570. To the south in Beckley, the cost is nearly double at $12,106 per month, and nearby Charleston shares this high cost. In Huntington, located near the Kentucky border, the average cost is just $6,844 per month, while near the Ohio border in Parkersburg, the median cost is $9,384. In Wheeling, seniors pay an average of $7,528, while the cost in Morgantown is much higher at $11,482 per month.

$12106

Beckley

$12106

Charleston

$11482

Morgantown

$9384

Parkersburg

$7528

Wheeling

$6844

Huntington

$6570

Weirton

Nursing home care is just one of several senior care options available in West Virginia. In comparison to the $11,376 average for nursing home care, the monthly identical costs of home care and home health care services are significantly lower at $3,527, based on an average of 44 hours of care per week. Residential care in an assisted living community costs $4,000, on average, while adult day care is the most affordable option at just $2,243 per month.

$3527

In-Home Care

$3527

Home Health Care

$2243

Adult Day Care

$4000

Assisted Living Facility

$11376

Nursing Home Care

Financial Assistance for Nursing Home Care in West Virginia

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 West Virginia.

West Virginia’s Medicaid Program

As of September 2020, West Virginia had 541,203 people enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, and this includes those for whom the program covers long-term care costs in nursing homes. West Virginia currently has 123 nursing homes available for seniors who need long-term nursing care, and many of these facilities are qualified to accept Medicaid funding. As of 2017, 76% of nursing home residents in West Virginia had Medicaid coverage, and 41% of the program’s long-term care expenditures went toward nursing home care.

As an alternative to Medicaid-funded nursing home care, families of seniors in West Virginia can opt for the Medicaid Aged and Disabled Waiver (ADW) Program. This program covers medical care, nursing care and a range of support services for eligible seniors where they live. These services can be provided in a senior’s own home or the home of a family member, and can delay or prevent the need to make the move to a skilled nursing facility. 

Medicaid Eligibility in West Virginia

In West Virginia, Medicaid coverage for long-term care is available to seniors with an income at or below 300% of the maximum Supplemental Security Income payment for one person, which as of January 2015 was $2,199. Additionally, the state limits applicants’ countable assets to $2,000 per individual or $3,000 per couple. Applicants also must be a resident of West Virginia and a U.S. citizen. Seniors can apply for Medicaid online, in person at their local Department of Health and Human Services office or over the phone by calling (877) 716-1212.

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 West Virginia

The state of West Virginia has a number of resources for seniors and their families, and many are offered at little to no cost. With these services, families can make informed decisions about the right type of care for their senior loved ones. Some also provide options for support at home, which can allow a senior to postpone the move to a nursing home.

ResourceContact Service
West Virginia State Health Insurance Assistance Program(877) 987-4463Through the SHIP program, seniors and their families can get free, unbiased counseling about Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage, prescription drug coverage and other health insurance options. This program has paid, trained counselors who are employed through the Bureau of Senior Services and Area Agencies on Aging, and this helps ensure accurate information is provided.
Lighthouse Program (877) 987-3646For families looking for alternatives to nursing home care, the Lighthouse program may be able to help. This state-funded program is available to seniors who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but who need help to remain living safely at home. Lighthouse services are available in every county, and may include assistance with nutrition, mobility, personal care and housekeeping. Based on their assessed needs, seniors can receive up to 60 hours of assistance per month, and services are offered on a sliding fee scale.
County Aging Providers(877) 987-3646County aging providers are senior centers specific to each county in West Virginia. They’re operated by the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services and offer a contact point for seniors and families access local services and receive advice about available long-term care options.
West Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program(800) 834-0598Families who have a loved one in a nursing home can get help and advocacy through the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. The Ombudsman’s goal is to ensure optimal quality of life and care for seniors in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The Ombudsman can investigate and help resolve complaints and educate families about the rights of their loved ones.
Legal Aid of West Virginia(866) 255-4370Legal Aid of West Virginia has 12 offices across the state. The nonprofit law firm provides civil legal advice and advocacy to seniors as well as those who are disabled, on a low-income or victims of domestic violence. Seniors and their families can apply for help online or over the phone, and the program also offers free legal clinics to discuss pertinent issues.
West Virginia Aging & Disability Resource Network(866) 981-2372The West Virginia Aging & Disability Resource Network assists seniors and their families with finding long-term services and supports. Through the ADRN’s online resource database, seniors can investigate available care options and connect with organizations in their local community that can help them make the transition to a nursing facility or continue aging at home safely.

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in West Virginia

Licensing RequirementsWest Virginia nursing homes are licensed through the Office of Health Facility Licensure & Certification. Licenses can be issued for periods of up to 15 months.
Staffing RequirementsWest Virginia requires long-term care facilities to maintain a ratio of licensed nursing staff to residents as follows:No less than 1:15 during morning shiftsNo less than 1:20 during afternoon shiftsNo less than 1:30 during nighttime shiftsIn addition, facilities must maintain the following ratio of direct care staff to residents:No less than 1:5 during morning shiftsNo less than 1:10 on afternoon shiftsNo less than 1:15 during nighttime shifts
Staff Training RequirementsAlthough West Virginia doesn’t have specific nursing home staff training requirements, nursing facility administrators must ensure that staff members are properly trained and licensed according to the services they provide to residents.
Admission RestrictionsNursing homes are only required to admit residents they can care for. If a resident has a condition a nursing home isn’t equipped to handle, the facility can deny their admission.
Care Planning RequirementsAll nursing homes in West Virginia must create a comprehensive care plan for each resident. This plan must be put in place within 7 days of the initial assessment of the resident. It must be created with the help of a registered nurse, an attending physician, the resident and the resident’s family or legal representative.
Dietary and Nutritional Services RequirementsA registered dietitian must be consulted when making meal plans for a nursing home. Menus need to meet the nutritional needs of residents. This includes the requirement to accommodate the diets of residents with special feeding or nutritional needs.
Specialized Rehabilitative ServicesIf the facility can’t provide specialized rehabilitative services on-site, it must make arrangements to have the resident taken to a location where they can receive such services.
Medication and Pharmaceutical ServicesIn West Virginia, medication may only be administered by approved medication assistive personnel (AMAP). These are staff members who have completed a nationally recognized model curriculum for medication distribution. Medications must be prescribed by an authorized physician.
Activities RequirementsWest Virginia nursing homes must employ an activities director to plan activities that meet the social, physical and mental needs of residents. All residents have the right to pursue activities that are of interest to them.
Infection Control RequirementsWest Virginia nursing homes must protect residents from infection by following best practices, including good hygiene, hand washing, facility cleaning and screening for communicable diseases.
Medicaid CoverageMedicaid may pay for some or all of the costs of nursing home care for West Virginia residents who meet the program’s financial guidelines and are deemed medically in need of a nursing facility level of care.