Exploring the Cost and Value of Private Versus Shared Bedrooms in Nursing Homes

Publication Title

The Gerontologist

Publication Date


Document Type



facility design and construction, patients' rooms, privacy, nursing homes, cost benefit analysis


Architecture | Environmental Design | Other Architecture


Purpose: There is debate about the relative merits and costs of private versus shared bedrooms in nursing homes, particularly in light of the current efforts at creating both cost-efficient and person-centered care facilities. The purpose of this project was to explore the extent to which there is evidence-based information that supports the merits of three different bedroom configurations: traditional shared, enhanced shared, and private. Design and Methods: We developed a framework of four broad domains that were related to the different bedroom configurations: psychosocial, clinical, operational, and construction or building factors. Within each dimension, we identified individual factors through the literature, interviews, and focus groups, with the goal of determining the breadth, depth, and quality of evidence supporting the benefits of one configuration over another. Results: The vast majority of factors identified in this study, regardless of whether there was solid empirical data, information from the focus groups, or other anecdotal evidence, indicated better outcomes associated with private rooms over shared rooms in nursing homes. Cost estimates suggest that construction cost (plus debt service) differences range from roughly $20,506 per bed for a traditional shared room to $36,515 for a private one, and that such differences are recouped in less than 2 years if beds are occupied, and in less than 3 months if a shared bed remains unoccupied at average private-pay room costs. Implications: Despite limited empirical evidence in some areas, this project provides the foundation for an evidence-based life-cycle costing perspective regarding the relative merits of different bedroom configurations.