What is a Skilled Nursing Facility?

Understanding the difference between a skilled nursing facility and a nursing home can help you determine viable care options for your loved one.

When your aging loved one is discharged from the hospital, they may be referred to a skilled nursing facility instead of returning home. Understanding the difference between a skilled nursing facility and a nursing home is an important step in determining the best care option for your loved one.

The terms “skilled nursing facility” and “nursing home” are often used interchangeably to describe a residential facility that provides on-site, 24-hour medical care. Some people think the two are one in the same, when in fact they are very different.

A skilled nursing facility is a type of care while a nursing home is a senior living option. Let’s define both more clearly so you can make an informed decision about your options.

Skilled Nursing Facilities vs. Nursing Homes

The key difference between a skilled nursing facility and a nursing home is the required medical attention and the length of stay. A skilled nursing facility is usually used following a short hospital stay, when the patient requires specific medical services to fully recover. They have specialized staff such as speech-language pathologists, rehabilitation specialists, and audiologists who are not typically staffed in a nursing home. Following a short skilled nursing rehabilitation stay, a patient assessment will be done to decide if the patient is able to return home.

A nursing home, on the other hand, provides permanent custodial care—not medical care. These locations offer certified health professionals, meal preparation, and assistance with non-medical, everyday living tasks such as bathing, grooming, bathroom use, medication monitoring, and more. Nursing homes offer 24-hour care as well as room and board. Many nursing homes also have special wings for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

Benefits of a Skilled Nursing Facility

The services a patient receives at a skilled nursing facility are key to his or her recovery. Benefits of skilled nursing facilities include:

  • 24/7 healthcare service. Registered and licensed medical staff are on hand around the clock to help should a problem arise.
  • Physical, speech, and occupational therapists. This plays a critical role in a patient’s recovery from an illness or injury.
  • Social Interaction. Varied social activities promote healing and recovery.

Questions to Ask About Skilled Nursing Facilities

It’s important to not make assumptions about your loved one’s care. Be sure to do your research and ask specific questions about each care facility, specifically regarding certifications and regulations. When choosing a skilled nursing facility, consider asking these questions:

  • Is the facility close to other support they have in their life such as family and friends?
  • What are the meals like?
  • What types of activities are offered?
  • What types of medical specialists are present at the facility, and does that fit your specific needs?

There are many choices when it comes to senior living—including the level of care you may need. Knowing the differences in care can assure you get the right level of care for your loved on.

Assisted Living Locators is your partner in finding the right senior living option for your loved one. Click here to find a senior care advisor in your area today.