Killing the Stigma

Where and how did the Nursing Home stigma begin?

The definition of stigma is “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.” For many years, that would describe the general public opinion of nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities as they are now often called. Over the decades of transformation of these communities, the stigma has remained. It’s important to understand why that is and what has changed. 

The concept of nursing homes started in the late 1930s. Social security became a political reality, and suddenly, older people had a stipend to use for their own care. Prior to that, the only Edler care available were called Old Folks Homes, Alms Houses, or Poor Folks Homes. Donations and volunteers supported them. 

Work/Poor House: “The workroom at St James’s workhouse” from The Microcosm of London (1808).

The original stigma that surrounded these facilities was not only that poor people were there but that these individuals had no family to care for them. There was a great deal of shame and embarrassment that surrounded them. The image of poor, sad, and lonely people who had a minimum of care was the norm. 

The stigma associated with nursing homes has evolved over time and is influenced by various factors, including cultural attitudes, historical contexts, and perceptions of aging and care.

Even though new models of senior care are the norm today, the stigma still exists.

One contributing factor to the stigma surrounding nursing homes is societal attitudes towards aging and dependency. Many cultures strongly emphasize independence and self-sufficiency, and the need for institutional care can be seen as a sign of weakness or failure rather than a natural part of the aging process. This attitude can contribute to feelings of shame or embarrassment among older adults and their families who may require nursing home care.

Historically, nursing homes have often been associated with poor quality of care, neglect, and abuse. In the past, many nursing homes were understaffed and poorly regulated, leading to instances of neglect and mistreatment of residents. These negative perceptions have contributed to the stigma surrounding nursing homes and have made many people hesitant to consider them as a viable option for long-term care.

Additionally, the portrayal of nursing homes in popular culture and media has often been negative, further perpetuating stereotypes and stigma. Movies, television shows, and news stories that focus on instances of abuse or neglect in nursing homes can reinforce the idea that nursing homes are inherently unsafe or undesirable places to live.

That is simply not true today. Modern, beautiful, homelike senior communities offer a loving and supportive environment. 


Dealing with the stigma is a challenge for skilled nursing facilities that do their best to provide high-quality care and support for their residents. Efforts to improve regulations, standards of care, and public perception are ongoing, but the stigma associated with nursing homes remains a complex issue influenced by a variety of factors.


Seeing is believing!


Beyond the availability of multiple levels of care in several communities, there may come a time when round-the-clock nursing care is a necessity. That is when the need for true “Nursing Home” care comes into being. At this point, when the demand is at its highest, families are looking for quality care, a supportive environment, and a beautiful space. McCrite Plaza in Kansas City and Topeka possesses all these attributes and much more.


Touring a nursing home or any type of senior living community and doing thorough research is important. Ask lots of questions and speak with other residents and their families. We invite you to tour McCrite Plaza in Topeka or Kansas City long before there is any necessity to learn how the “Nursing Home” stigma no longer exists!

Call McCrite Plaza in Briarcliff-Kansas City at (816) 888-7930 or (785) 267-2960 in Topeka to schedule a tour today, or complete the contact form below.

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